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Full text of "The Paul Brown Era at Centenary : years of growth"

The Paul Brown Era 
At Centenary : 

Years of Growth 




A Centenary College Publication 



This book is dedicated to the 
love that Paul M. Brown has 
shown toward his alma mater since 
he first stepped foot on 
Centenary's campus in 1909. No 
other person has been associated 
so closely and for so long with 
Centenary's development. 

"Mr. Paul" came to the college 
when a single building met all 
housing and instructional needs. 
When he retired as chairman of the 
Board of Trustees in 1965, 
Centenary's campus reflected a 
half century of growth, in both 
human and material resources. 
The campus today is a monument 
to the devotion of its builders, and 
particularly of Paul M. Brown, 
whom President Donald A. Webb 
calls Centenary's primum mobile 
— its "first mover." 



Cover photograph of Brown 
Memorial Chapel was taken by Thurman 
C. Smith of Shreveport. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/paulbrowneraatceOObrow 



The Paul Brown Era 
At Centenary : 



Years of Growth 



A Centenary College Publication 
Shreveport, Louisiana 



Copyright 1981 by Centenary College. 

All rights reserved. 

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or 
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval 
system, without permission in writing from the publisher. 



Table of Contents 



Foreward 3 

The Reminiscences of Paul M. Brown Jr. 5 

A Conversation Between Paul M. Brown Jr. 21 
And Dr. Walter Lowrey 

Postscript 83 



Foreword 



Even in a time when the inflation of words has much devalued their 
efficacy, it is yet justifiable for the people of Centenary College to speak 
of "The Paul Brown Era." There was a great period in the college's 
history — nearly half a century — so clearly identified with the leader- 
ship and devotion of Paul Brown that it was unquestionably his era. 
Whether as its chairman of the board, elder statesman or chief philan- 
thropist, he was for 50 years its loving mentor. What was best about the 
college's life in those decades was in the main elicited or nurtured or built 
by this primus inter pares — indeed, this primum mobile. That Latin tags 
attach appropriately to him is a further mark of his quality, for not only 
was he the college's strategist and steward, but also eminent among its 
scholars. Indeed, as a young man, he taught Latin and Greek at 
Centenary; his involvement with classical languages never ceased — at 
age 84, for example, he addressed my Round Table on the indebtedness 
of English speech to Latin. He and I have enjoyed, with each other, some 
of the best etymological discussions either of us has ever had — and he in 
his 80s! 

A clue to a man's achievements is, sometimes, the people he ad- 
mires. As he studied the early history of the college, there were two men 
Mr. Paul came to admire deeply. One was his great-grandfather, Robert 
Perry, a wealthy Jackson, Louisiana, plantation owner, whose kiln pro- 
vided the first bricks for the college; the other was George H. Wiley, one 
of the first instructors in classical languages at Centenary. Each made 
very different, yet very important, contributions to the college's crea- 
tion; but both were characterized by an abiding and self-sacrificing 
loyalty to Centenary.. 

This loyalty, Mr. Paul has said, is "the brick upon which Centenary 
College is built." And it is this which enables him to feel kinship not only 
with Robert Perry, but with George H. Wiley also — a kinship of spirit. 
"It is through this connection with Robert Perry and George H. Wiley 
that we have come to love Centenary and devote ourselves to its up- 
building," Mr. Paul avers. "And this we have done because literally we 
love Centenary College, and we have given of our all to it, and will con- 
tinue to do so." 

These reminiscences and the following conversation between Mr. 
Paul and the late Dr. Walter Lowrey give one a precious glimpse, in his 
own words, of what that love inspired, and what that "all" accom- 
plished. 

Donald A. Webb 

President, Centenary College 

June 17, 1981 




The Mickle Hall of Science, named for Centenary President foe Mickle. 



Parti 

The Reminiscences of 
Paul M. Brown Jr. 



So that his grandchildren might know something of his life, Paul M. 
Brown Jr. wrote the following sketch. There are many references in it to 
Centenary and Mr. Brown's strong connections to the college. In Part II, 
Mr. Brown explains in more detail some of the events he remembers con- 
cerning Centenary. 



"Reminiscences" 7 



Dr. Robert H. Wynn, a brother minister of the Louisiana Methodist 
Conference with my father, whose name I bear with pride, wrote my 
father's memorial at the Conference of 1923. It was published in the New 
Orleans Christian Advocate at that time. This is probably the best ac- 
count of my father's years immediately following his graduation from 
Centenary. Dr. Wynn had graduated in 1889, a year earlier, but he was 
quite familiar with my father and they became and remained fast friends. 

According to this memorial, my father was married to Mary Alice 
Perry on his birthday, August 26, 1891. I heard him say many times that 
he was never his own boss. His father was the Rev. Thomas Walthall 
Brown of Woodville, Mississippi, who graduated from Centenary in 
1850. His mother was Mary P. Smith of Cazenovia, New York. Mother's 
father was Dr. Sanford Perry, a Centenary graduate of 1853. Her mother 
was Sallie Lane Fly, who was born at Fayette, Mississippi. 

In December, 1891, my father joined the Mississippi Conference and 
was assigned to Amite City, where he served three years. In 1894, the 
General Conference of the Methodist Church changed lines to state lines. 
All of my knowledge of the Amite days are, of course, hearsay. My 
brother Perry was born there June 14, 1892, and I followed on November 
5, 1893. 

My mother had vowed that she would never marry a man named 
Jones, Brown or Smith — and never a minister. Her vows fell on stony 
ground, and in addition she married a man two years younger. Her age 
was private, which she tried to keep a deep secret and did for many 
years. Since she too has gone to her last reward and is with the "Little 
Parson," as she called my father, the matter is history. She was born 
March 3, 1868. But as long as she lived it was hush-hush. 

Amite was in Tangipahoa Parish. That parish was largely populated 
by a mixed breed called "Red Bones." They were Afro-Indians who lived 
a hard life — and a wild life — and were inclined to shoot first and ask 
later. There was little law and order because there was no one to enforce 
it. This lawlessness was well known, and a story was told to illustrate the 
fact. There were two small towns just north of Amite, Hyde and 
Tangipahoa. When the passenger conductor on the Illinois Central train 
would come through the train calling the stops ahead, mostly flagstops, 
he would call "Hyde, Tangipahoa ahead!" And his passengers, so it was 
said, would seek safety behind something which seemed bullet proof, at 
least until Tangipahoa was passed. 

At the Conference in December, 1894, my father was sent by the 
Bishop to Caddo Circuit in Northwest Louisiana, with the parsonage at 



8 The Paul Brown Era 



Keatchie. So father, mother, maternal grandmother and two small boys 
were packed up to make the long trip across the state from Southeast to 
Northwest, probably to spend some savings from the munificent salary 
of $300 per year. There were no good roads, only wagon trails. The 
alternative was to rent or charter an old railroad boxcar, and this was 
done. 

The family rode the passenger train. There may have been sleeping 
and dining cars, but if so they were not for us. Instead, we carried our 
own groceries plus countless pot plants; each had his or her own 
separate load, but I doubt that I was large enough to help, since I had to 
be carried. 

Conference always met in December. No preacher ever knew 
whether he was returning to his post or being sent elsewhere until the last 
day of Conference, which was usually Monday morning. The Cabinet 
was sworn to silence, and often the presiding elder was moved without 
his knowledge. The bishop read out his appointments, a dead secret until 
then. He then led a hymn, pronounced the benediction and beat it to the 
train to find his home in some distant city. There was no recourse. True, 
the bishop had the Cabinet, composed of so many presiding elders, each 
to a district. But the presiding elder could never be sure of his own job. 

I hasten to add that some bishops were more humane, but the 
system was the same. There were some bishops who were arbitrary, but 
the system was improving, as it still is. 

We were allowed to stay at Keatchie for four years — the limit. I can 
remember very little, but I do know that my father built a name for 
himself and was apparently welcomed everywhere. He had seven or 
eight churches. In November, 1973, I read in The Shreveport Times that 
"75 Years Ago Today" a series of meetings at the First Methodist Church 
was closed by a great message from the Rev. Paul M. Brown. That must 
have been at the close of the Keatchie Ministry. 

About Keatchie, I have a few memories, which I will stretch. There 
was at Keatchie a Baptist girls' college, which I suspect was rather 
primitive. There was a professor named Biddle, who often walked past 
the parsonage. We soon learned his name and made acquaintance by 
greeting him by name. Also, there was a Dr. Horn, who gave the 
"preacher-free" service. My brother Ellis Horn Brown was born at Keat- 
chie, his name being the doctor's reward for the free service. The birth 
took place February 8, 1896. (Ellis was to die in service in October, 1918, 
at Camp Colt, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He volunteered to serve in a 
tank corps under a young major by the name of "Ike" Eisenhower. Ellis 
was a fine athlete, who had an athletic heart that made him unable to 
survive a siege of penumonia, meningitis and other ailments.) At Keat- 
chie, there was a doctor W. H. Morgan, with whom I became acquainted 
later when I was cashier of the American National Bank in Shreveport. 
Dr. Morgan was director of that bank, and we had some conversations 
about old times. 

At the conference in December, 1898, my father was moved to 



"Reminiscences" 9 



Coushatta. This was a short move and a short service, as I remember. 
The three boys traveled four miles to Gloster in a buckboard — a two- 
wheeled rig pulled by a donkey driven by a black man. Gloster was east 
of Keatchie on the Texas and Pacific Railroad line. When the train even- 
tually came, each of us grabbed our quota of flower pots and climbed the 
steps of a passenger train, or were helped up, to go to a union station in 
Shreveport. 

How I remember the trains of those days! A steam engine, coal-fired 
from a coal car behind, with an engineer and a fireman: The engineer 
pulled the throttle and the fireman shoveled coal from the coal car to a 
fire box leading to the fire beneath the boiler. The cab was open in all 
seasons. The cars rattled and lurched down the tracks at a moderate 
speed. There was no protection from cold, dust and soot for trainmen 
and passengers: You arrived at the end of the journey needing a steam 
bath and Octagon soap. At Shreveport, we boarded a similar train, run 
by the Louisiana Railroad and Navigation Company, for Coushatta, 
about 45 miles from Shreveport. Keatchie and Coushatta: two Indian 
names. There were still no roads; to move furniture, one chartered a 
boxcar, which was tattered and torn by hard usage or misuse and should 
have been retired. 

Of Coushatta, where we lived only six months, I have but few 
memories, but one thing I do remember well. In December, 1898, after 
we had moved in, there was a foot-deep snow, something never before 
witnessed there by man nor other living creature. It happened that our 
home, a frame building that was probably not very tight, was eight or 
ten feet from a similar house. Looking out the window, I saw a much 
confused hen come out from under our house and seek shelter under the 
house next door. It was with great difficulty as each step carried her 
deeper into the soft, cold stuff. I am sure I was as confused as she. 

I do not remember our summer trip to the Johnston Collegiate In- 
stitute at Greensburg. The pastoral moves had become routine by this 
time; the whole family, including the pot plants, had been firmly 
organized, and the system was functioning satisfactorily. So why 
change? The school was run by the Conference, and its purpose was to 
train students for Centenary. Because money was scarce, chickens, eggs, 
potatoes and vegetables were bartered for tuition and other expenses. 
Cold storage and transportation to distant places were not available, so 
the value of these perishables was largely lost. 

The curriculum must not have been easy. I remember that my 
father's father, Thomas Walthall Brown, taught Greek there, probably 
free or for board and lodging. He lived at our home and was much in- 
terested in his grandsons. There were never any sisters. 

Tom Holland published the newspaper (The St. Helena Echo, if my 
memory is right), which was a weekly, I believe. His son and heir, C. O. 
Holland, who now lives at Minden, was hardly old enough then to wield 
much influence. C. O. (Speck) has been a highly valued friend of mine 
over many years. 



10 The Paul Brown Era 



My father was a preacher first, last and always. The Conference of 
December, 1900, appointed him to the St. Helena charge in the Baton 
Rouge District. In December, 1901, he was still president of Johnston 
Collegiate Institute and Kentwood. How he managed to get around so 
much by horse and buggy, I'll never know. 

In December, 1902, we were moved to Bunkie in Avoyelles Parish in 
the central part of the state, and we remained there through 1904. There 
we made many worthwhile friends. Among them was the Haas family, 
whose great wealth had its origins in a general store in Bunkie. Dr. Haas 
had a general medical practice until his holdings became so numerous 
that he had no time for doctoring. He had formed a partnership with a 
young Dr. Davis, who wound up with all the practice. The Haas family 
were true to their church and were regular attendants at all services. The 
good doctor had just built an electric light plant and had installed lights 
at the church. I think that it was at one Wednesday night service that I 
saw him go around to all the lights — single globes swinging on long 
wires — and with a silk handkerchief carefully clean each globe. 

Bunkie was a circuit with eight or nine churches. My father would 
often take me on these long trips, starting on Friday night. On Saturday, 
we would visit at least two, then more on Sunday morning, afternoon 
and night. Then we would return to Bunkie after night service. I am sure 
my father was lonesome. Then there were the Snellings, the Knolls and 
the Bubenzers, but time does not permit me to expand. They were mostly 
farmers. I must add that John Garrison Snelling was an Episcopalian lay 
reader, who came to hear my father and became a Methodist preacher. 

At Bunkie I became an individual and began to learn about life. 
There was a high school, not very strictly graded. Here was my first and 
perhaps my best public education. 

Bunkie was surrounded by swampy country where many mos- 
quitoes bred and spread malarial fever and at times the dreaded yellow 
fever, which was started on the coast and spread inland. At such times, 
no one was allowed into town without having been examined and vac- 
cinated. Otherwise, he was stopped and held in a "pest" house. I filled up 
on malaria, and it hounded me all of my early life. I remember having 
periodic chills and fever — freezing for a short time, then burning with 
fever. Quinine was the cure-all, taken every four hours. 

We went to a neighbor's house for dinner one day at noon. We had 
our meals — breakfast, dinner and supper. Later we learned our error. 
Time came for my quinine; the lady saw it and out of kindness brought 
me a steak and biscuit sandwich. I can still taste it. I thought I had never 
eaten anything so good. 

Back to the Haas family: W. D. and Hattie and their children, 
Maccie, Samuel, Dave and Nannie. The husband and wife were first 
cousins. Their fathers were Jewish gentlemen, Sam and Alex, who had 
come to this country to make a living. They brought all of their posses- 
sions in a handkerchief held on their shoulders. They brought also their 
trading ability and sense of values. They made plenty of money, living at 



'Reminiscences" 11 



Turkey Creek farther back in the country west of Bunkie. Alex grew 
tired of the hard living, and he moved west to California, where he found 
the easy life. He wrote Sam, telling him all about the new life and asked 
him to come out. So Sam went for a visit, but still he would not move. 
Pressed for a reason, Sam said, "I had rather be a king among fools than 
a fool among kings." There were no death or inheritance taxes in those 
days, and no income taxes. 

Father and the family lived at Bunkie for three years. The Con- 
ference of December, 1904, assigned him to White's Chapel, Alexandria 
District, south of Bunkie on Bayou Boeuf, and to the private school at 
Milburn, just across the bayou from our home. About three or four miles 
separated Milburn from White's Chapel. 

A preacher named Green was appointed to Bunkie. A yellow fever 
broke out, and Rev. Green caught the disease and died. The next year, 
December, 1905, my father was appointed to Bunkie and White's 
Chapel. So the Browns moved back into the parsonage at Bunkie after 
fumigating and painting the structure. Fumigating was done by sealing a 
house supposedly tight and burning sulphur. How effective was this 
method is open to question, but it did kill the mosquitoes. 

At the Conference of 1906, we were sent to Trout and Jena, living at 
Trout. Father served as chairman of the Conference's Committee on Ad- 
mission on Trials, of the Epworth League, from 1907 to 1908. Trout was 
a sawmill town at the end of the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway. The 
road had been built by the Buchanan family's Bodcaw Lumber Com- 
pany, starting at Hope in Southwest Arkansas and connecting several 
operations in Louisiana. Across Trout Creek from Trout Creek Lumber 
Company was another Buchanan mill, the Good Pine Lumber Company. 
The creek formed holding ponds for both mills. From large, mostly 
virgin forests that were owned by the Buchanans (Bill and Jim) and a 
group of associates, the timber was cut and hauled in by rail lines and 
dumped into the pond, to be moved by pike pole to a belt running into 
the mill. The logs were scaled and their lengths and diameters recorded in 
a scale-book, twenty-five to a page. Here's where I came in. 

During a large part of our three years at Trout and Jena, I worked as 
office boy. My day started at six, when I opened and swept the office — 
six rooms — made fires in winter in the wood stoves, added scale books, 
25 logs to a page, or checked them. They were not very accurate. I 
became a good adder. I got to where I could bring down three columns of 
figures by one pass. At ten a.m. I took the time books out to the sawmill 
to about ten separate departments and left the books for loggers and 
teamsters so that on trips in on the log train they could mark them up. I 
would go back to the office and work on invoices, checking all figures. 
We had an adding machine, a Burroughs, but it was very primitive. It 
would be used a day or so, packed into a shipping case and sent back to 
St. Louis for repair. It was a joke. You had to learn how to add in your 
head. I put my OK on every invoice. I was later told that they never 
caught me in an error. 



12 The Paul Brown Era 



The company issued coupon books to workers and charged items to 
their accounts. I spent much time in the time-keeper's office, where I 
posted from time books, issued coupon books and so on. 

At three p.m., I went my rounds of the mill, picked up all the time 
books, brought them in and helped the time-keeper. When the logging 
crew came in after six p.m., I often was in the office trying to wait on the 
needs of a number of men anxious to do their business and get home. At 
times, we held the logging-crew time-books in the office. The woods 
foreman wanted help in marking up time books. 

It was a grind but lots of fun, and I enjoyed it. Somehow I never ad- 
justed to school. The only one available to us was the Jena Seminary. 
Every Monday morning, Perry and I walked from Trout, where we 
lived, over the railroad tracks to Jena, where we boarded with a fine old 
character named Sam Barr, who was famed for hunting quail. A fine 
man, R. E. Bobbitt (Red as father called him), was our teacher, and he 
was a good one. But my mind was not available, and I soon talked my 
father out of the idea and went back to the office job at the sawmill. Mr. 
Bobbitt later became president of Mansfield Female College, a Methodist 
school. 

The town of Trout was built in a square, and all the houses were 
built to the same pattern and painted a light gray. All were owned by the 
company of course. No other housing was available, since all the land 
for miles around was owned by the company. The only variation was the 
size and number of rooms. Everyone working for the company lived 
there, management included. The Buchanans had a private car called the 
Bodcaw, which was a sleeping, dining and lounging car that they used 
when they came to see the peons. One of the boys of a company manager 
said the Louisiana and Arkansas ran from Hope to "Despair." But 
Despair was very profitable. 

Centenary College opened for business at Shreveport in the fall of 
1908. In January, 1909, Perry and I came to Shreveport and entered. We 
lived in Jackson Hall on the third floor. We finished that spring semester 
and came back in the fall. My chills and fever came back early in the fall. 
Dr. J. C. Willis (the original) came out to the college, and he said I could 
not do any good there. He sent me home to try to get well. 

The Conference of 1909 sent my father to be presiding elder (district 
superintendent) of the Alexandria District. So I went home to Alexan- 
dria, which was still malaria country. Across the river, Pineville was in 
piney woods country; so we moved to Tioga just out of Pineville. I spent 
the winter and part of the spring there, and my malaria cleared up — I 
hoped not to return again. Sometime in the spring, I had a long-distance 
call from the office manager at Trout, who said that he was losing his 
time-keeper and if I wanted the job it was mine at the magnificent salary 
of $75 per month. I was fed up on home, and I'm sure home was fed up 
on me. So to Trout I went. 

The Conference of 1910 re-appointed my father as presiding elder of 
the Alexandria District. He was also president of the Conference Board 



"Reminiscences" 13 



of Education, with the financial problem of Centenary College. Thinking 
back, I'm sure his inability to solve those problems took some of his life 
blood. This paper will reveal the desperate struggle and his failure to get 
the job done — also his love, a sacrificial love, for the school. 

The 1911 Conference kept him in the Alexandria District. The 1912 
Conference made him presiding elder of the Shreveport District. He had 
been elected a delegate to the General Conference of the Southern 
Methodist Episcopal Church South, which met at Asheville, North 
Carolina, in May, 1912. The 1912 Louisiana Conference made him a 
member of the Mansfield Female College Board, president of the Con- 
ference Board of Education and a member of the Historical Commission. 
He served on the Board of Trustees of Centenary from 1906 to 1919. The 
1914 Conference made him Conference secretary of educaton, to live in 
Shreveport, and, again, president of the Conference Board of Education. 

The 1915 Conference sent him to Natchitoches and back into the 
pulpit. His pleading with the pastor of the Louisiana Conference had 
brought him into disfavor perhaps. He became president of the Board of 
Missions. The 1916 Conference kept him at Natchitoches and president 
of the Board of Missions. The 1917 Conference moved him to DeRidder 
and retained him once more as president of the Conference Board of mis- 
sions. The 1918 and 1919 Conference kept him at DeRidder. Those were 
the war years, and he had three sons in the service. 

In October, 1918, Ellis Horn, the youngest son died, as I have men- 
tioned, of an athletic heart, pneumonia and a complication of troubles. 
He had volunteered for the Tank Corps, which was in training at Camp 
Colt, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, under Major Dwight D. Eisenhower. I 
was in France, and when the mail caught up six weeks later, I was at Dun 
sur Meuse. It was a sad day. Ellis was a brilliant young man. Three years 
younger than I, he was by far the best student. 

Back at Centenary, Perry and I stayed, and I eventually completed 
my A.B. degree in English. Lacking three units or forty-five hours, I went 
to Louisiana State University and passed the three units. Meantime, I 
was working for my M.A. at Southern Methodist University. Since 
Centenary only had one commencement, Ellis and I got our degrees in 
1916. I came to Shreveport from Dallas one week and returned to Dallas 
for the M.A. the next week. 

On July 30, 1918, I was married to Miss Willie Eleanor Cavett of 
Shreveport. The ceremony took place at Alexandria on a forged pass. 
My new wife went home, but I left to join the American Expeditionary 
Force. My wedding trip, the boys said, was illegitimate. But back to the 
war years. 

I had returned to Centenary in 1916 to take the instructorship in 
classicial languages, both Latin and Greek. I was naive. The Centenary 
catalogue offered a year in Greek tragedy and listed Sophocle's An- 
tigone. I had just completed Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound at S.M.U., 
and instead of asking for a change, I struggled through Sophocles, stay- 
ing just ahead of the class. Latin courses were easier. Just as I finished the 



14 The Paul Brown Era 



year's work the draft board sent me to Camp Beauregard at Alexandria 
for training — a minimum amount at least. We shipped from there in 
August on old sleeping cars for Camp Merrit on Long Island to wait for a 
boat and convoy. Finally, the convoy was formed, and we drew the 
DeKalb. Our boat was the former Prince Eitel Frederick, which was 
armed as the flag ship of the German fleet. We were assigned to guard the 
right end of the convoy of thirteen or fifteen ships, our battleships and 
cruisers stationed left, front and center. In mid-Atlantic, we heard our 
guns shooting, and we were circling around, dropping depth charges on 
a German submarine, which had shot at us but missed. We never knew 
what happened to the submarine, but some time later we looked up and 
not a trace of our convoy was in sight. Gone over that hill! We did catch 
up, and soon we were surrounded by mosquito boats with their helio 
lights blinking. 

We landed safely at Brest and marched up the hill to a rest camp, 
where we pitched pup tents and dug drains. It rained, as it seemed to do 
almost every day in France. I think maybe we left Beauregard on August 
10 and landed at Brest on September 3. Incidentally, about the Prince 
Eitel Frederich, I read a story in the American magazine sometime later 
that reported the ship had been interned in New York Harbor at the out- 
break of the war. Before abandoning the ship, the German sailors had 
sawed the main drive-shaft almost in two, knowing when put into ser- 
vice it would break. But it made many trips over and back, and that Ger- 
man steel was good. Still, my mind went back to the occurence in mid- 
Atlantic. 

From St. Florent, we were sent up to the front in the usual style. 
When we passed through Paris, the news boys were shouting "C'est 
Signe." (It is signed.) But our orders were to go to the front, and to the 
front we went. First to Souille, just back of Verdun. Both sides made it a 
point to use up all their ammunition, and it was aimed over our heads. 
All the firing made sleeping uncomfortable. 

On November 11, at eleven a.m., the armistice came with deafening 
quiet. We heard riotous celebrations over there, but we couldn't under- 
stand. Our tired cootie-ridden troops slowly came or dragged themselves 
out of the trenches. As we watched them, they had our deep sympathy. 

Leaving Souille, we took a task force to Dun sur Meuse as a 
telephone group. The 3rd Army of occupation was formed in that area, 
from where they went into Luxembourg. We kept open the lines of com- 
munication until the lines were straightened and we lost our business. 
But we were there and had to stay there. We were between three 
railheads and drew rations from all three. We took full advantage. Later 
we were ordered to salvage all copper wire. When we got ready to leave, 
we were ordered to turn it over to the French, for whom we had no love. 
The wire was dropped into the Meuse River. 

We were shipped, still in boxcars, to Marseilles. There we waited for 
quite a while for a boat. Finally we were shipped out on an Italian boat, 
the Regina de Italia, which had about five thousand troops stacked 



"Reminiscences" 15 



wherever room could be found. Our first stop was at Gilbraltar for coal- 
ing. This was done by a great number of dwarf men with coal-baskets 
strapped to their backs. There was a line of them coming up and another 
going down. First, they would be filled with coal from the stockpile. 
Then they carried the coal up a gang plank and, by leaning over, they 
dumped it into the ship's stockpile. This went on night and day for three 
days without letup, probably just as the first ship was coaled. You can 
imagine how the ship looked when the operation was finished. 

We steamed westward to arrive in New York about two weeks later. 
We knew once we got over the hill in front we could see New York, but 
the hill kept moving as we approached. Finally we made it. We entrained 
for Camp Merrit, I think, to take shots and be examined. I had a slight 
fever and was sent to the camp hospital to recover. I did, and we were 
given passes into New York. I contacted A. W. (Dub) Baird, an old 
Centenary friend who was playing second base for the Giants at the old 
Polo Grounds. I saw the game and met Dub for the evening. Dub made a 
play that afternoon which Hugh Fullerton, a New York sports writer, 
raved about. It was a beauty of a double play. Every move was graceful. 

Finally we entrained by sleepers to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for a 
short stay. There we were paid off, and given train fare home. Trains 
were the only means of travel in those days. I went to New Orleans for 
an overnight stay and a call home, thence by Southern Pacific to Lake 
Charles. My wife was teaching at DeRidder where my father was 
minister. The people had given my father a Buick automobile; so they 
drove down to meet me. 

At DeRidder I had a telegram from S.M.U. offering me an instruc- 
torship to teach English. I found I was supposed to lecture to freshmen 
and sophomore classes of up to 250 students. At the same time, I had a 
call from Mr. McCutchen, president of American National Bank in 
Shreveport asking me to come up and help him with some governmental 
reports that he was struggling with. That was something to earn a penny 
for the summer. I had worked my way through college by odd work with 
that bank. 

Once here I was persuaded to take a job with the bank because the 
pay was better and the work more familiar. I became assistant cashier, 
and a few years later cashier. I was active among the young bankers and 
became president of Northwest Louisiana Clearing House. During my 
year, I had the Rev. Gerald L. K. Smith as featured speaker. He was quite 
a good speaker. For us, his subject was "The Gold Standard." But he 
spoke on high principles of living. I was actively involved in the work of 
the young bankers in the American Institute of Banking. We had a strong 
chapter of which I became president. The national convention that year 
met at Baltimore, and our secretary Thurman Leeper and I attended. We 
had a local magazine that we used that year to advertise Shreveport. 
When the meeting was over, we went into New York for a little sightsee- 
ing and took passage on a boat to Norfolk, Virginia. We were told we 
came through a storm, but I never knew it. Thence home by train. 



16 The Paul Brown Era 



In June, 1923, my father died of Bright's Disease at Mineral Wells, 
Texas, where we had taken him for some "miraculous" cure that proved 
to be a mirage. He had given his life to the ministry and, during World 
War I, war work in Beauregard Parish. He was worried about his three 
sons in service: Perry was shot down leading his outfit up St. Mihiel; 
Ellis died in service at Camp Colt in Gettysburg. 

On November 1, 1924, an event took place at our house: A 
daughter, Eleanor Brown, arrived. At that time we lived at 403 Olive 
Street. A second event happened on July 21, 1927: a son, Charles Ellis 
Brown, appeared. 

There developed some trends that led the banking business into 
trouble. In 1929, my bank sent me as its representative to the meeting of 
the American Bankers Association at San Francisco at the St. Francis 
Hotel. I went on a special train from Beaumont, Texas. We stopped at El 
Paso, where I ran into Julius H. White, an old friend who had worked at 
our bank but was then an agent of an airline from El Paso to Los Angeles. 
He offered to fly me back to El Paso for one-half the fare. It was agreed, 
and I rejoined my train and went to Frisco. The A.B.A. meetings were 
highly interesting, but they also filled me with many misgivings. The 
bankers from the East were scared stiff. I knew we had money on call in 
New York at seventeen percent interest. I did wire them to call it, since 
the collateral was weak. 

After the meeting, I went by train to Los Angeles, where I reported 
at the airline office, got my ticket and rode a three-motored Ford 
airplane. We took off on a dirt strip and flew over the San Bernardino 
Mountains, which looked quite soft, surrounded as they were by white 
clouds, except for the peaks. Over the desert, we dropped down for 
quite a distance but kept going. We landed at Tucson and Santa Fe 
uneventfully. As we approached the pass at El Paso, I hoped that we 
would get through. We made it, but then we had to wait for our special 
train to catch up. It came, and I rode it on to Beaumont, where I caught 
the Kansas City Southern to Shreveport. 

The Great Depression came, and good stocks fell to almost nothing 
on the stock market and sold for less than a dollar share. The effect on 
the bank collateral and on real estate was terrific. It came slowly until the 
election of 1932, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected. Many banks 
were closed. First to go was the Exchange National. I was on a committee 
which worked all night to appraise the assets so that the combined banks 
of Shreveport could put up cash to pay off all depositors. Of course, the 
shareholders lost their investments and had to put up an assessment. The 
Continental Bank and Trust Company became The Continental Trust 
and Savings Bank with some help from the Commercial National Bank. 
Our bank, largely a farmer's bank, went the same route. Ray Oden Sr. 
and I met all of one night to work on organizing the Commercial 
American Bank and Trust Company. We cleaned house. Mr. Oden and I 
had agreed to stay. Later our bank and the Continental were con- 



'Reminiscences" 17 



solidated under one charter to form the Continental- American Bank and 
Trust Company with seven thousand shares. Four thousand were held by 
the Commercial. 

I remained as cashier until September 1, 1935. The president of the 
Continental-American and the Commercial was Val H. Murrell Sr. He 
was a great friend of mine. Our experiences would make a book. On 
September 1, 1935, 1 made up my mind to go to work for the Bayou State 
Oil Corporation. I was to work with two brothers who were operating 
the company, Frank M. and Sidney M. Cook. I had the full cooperation 
of Val Murrell, who promised I could come back if I wanted to. He gave 
me a sterling water pitcher. 

At Bayou State, I found that I was president and general manager of 
a badly broken oil refinery at Hosston. Sidney Cook was vice president, 
and Frank Cook was secretary and treasurer — and carried the stick. 
Here let me record the passing of Frank. He had married the daughter of 
J. C. Foster. Frank told me one day that he had finished a complete listing 
of all the assets of the Foster estate and had a ledger sheet for each. It was 
a big book. He went down to the parking garage, which was owned and 
run by John B. Hutchinson and his wife on Edwards Street. While 
waiting for his car, Frank fell over dead. I lost a true friend. His brother 
was a sick man and not so understanding. 

My first task at Hosston was to get a lease and drill a few gas wells. 
My driller was Pete Graves, but he wanted me to be with him and tell 
him where and how to finish the wells. The pressure was low; so it had 
to be pumped in to Hosston. Over near Oil City, we had a pipeline, 
which I had salvaged. We took it up, eight-inch pipe, and moved it over 
to Hosston and laid a line about two miles long into the boiler house. The 
gas pressure was only 20 pounds, but it made a hot fire, as I learned. I 
was observing the flow one day and a chemist, whom I had borrowed, lit 
a cigarette. I was immediately in the wrong place and got badly singed. 
But I recovered. 

I acquired additional oil leases over as far as Vivian and some east of 
the plant. I started an oil-well-drilling campaign to gradually put the pro- 
duction in shape and fill the plant to capacity. By that time, I needed 
money; so I went in to see Val Murrell. Always he would ask, "Paul, if 
you were in my place, would you make this loan?" I could say "Yes"; so 
he okayed the loan. Slowly we made our operation work. The plant and 
storage had been built by the Graver Corporation of Chicago. Frank 
Cook had organized the Bayou State Refining Company to sign twenty- 
four notes at $10,000 for twenty-four months. He did not obligate the 
Bayou State Oil assets. The notes were paid off as fast as they came due: 
$240,000 in all. Built in 1928, the company ran until 1978, when material 
changes were required. 

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, an arm of the federal 
government, wanted to add capital to the banks, and it offered to sell to 
the Continental-American Bank and Trust Company. This was after I 
had left, but Val called on me to help him out. So I re-wrote the bank's 



18 The Paul Brown Era 



charter to authorize the sale. We had to have a letter from the bank's at- 
torney approving the change. He made no changes but sent a bill for 
$2,000. Val tore up the bill, and wrote him a check for $200. 

I held all meetings, starting with the stockholders' meeting. I then 
met with the Board, had all the necessary resolutions passed and took the 
file to the R.F.C. office in New Orleans. Later I was told that the R.F.C. 
used my forms for all their similar transactions. My expenses were paid. 

In the spring of 1933, Dr. W. Angie Smith, pastor of the First 
Methodist Church of Shreveport and for a year and a half acting presi- 
dent of Centenary College, came to my desk at the bank. He asked me if I 
would be president of Centenary. My answer was no. He then asked me 
if I would serve on the Centenary Board of Trustees and I agreed. That 
was the beginning of my connection with Centenary. 

One day in 1932 Val Murrell had taken me up to our board room at 
the bank and with tears in his eyes told me that the Commercial National 
Bank had to close. He showed me a roll of checks that added up to 
$1,000,000, which under his leadership the directors of the old bank had 
put up to charter and capitalize a new bank. He asked me to help him 
with the details, which I did. Five years later Val and Jake Embry called 
me and said the comptroller of the currency had ruled that the liquida- 
tion of the assets of the old bank was too slow and they wanted to ap- 
point a receiver. They had decided that they wanted me to be the 
receiver. I agreed, though I was president of the Bayou State Oil Cor- 
poration and working at Centenary College. I soon got acquainted with 
two Georgia boys — Gibbs Lyons, deputy comptroller, and Walter 
Roper, head of the Insolvent Division of the Comptroller's Office. 

The only way to get to Washington from Shreveport was by train, 
two nights and a day. It was a good train and a good rest. Everytime 
something came up, they either told me to come up there or they would 
come down here. They always made reservations for me at the 
Washington Hotel near the Treasury Department and the White House. 
Every morning at breakfast I ate near Vice President John Nance Garner 
of Texas. He could very easily have had his breakfast sent up to his 
rooms but he chose to eat with the peons — he was a true Democrat. 

One item I must mention before leaving this discussion: Four- thou- 
sand shares of the Continental-American Bank, a good solvent bank, 
were owned by the defunct Commercial National Bank. One day Mr. E. 
A. Frost called me to his office. On behalf of a group who wanted to buy 
from the receiver the four-thousand shares of the Continental- American 
Bank and Trust Company, he made me an offer that I felt was too low. I 
told him he would have to come up before I could recommend it. We 
finally agreed on $117.50 per share. I called Washington and told them of 
the offer and told them I knew they could get the last audit report made 
by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. They suggested I come 
up. I had a sneaking suspicion that the new Commercial National Bank 
would want the stock, but they never mentioned it. I told my 



"Reminiscences" 19 



Washington friends that we should never sell the stock at private sale but 
instead should require a public auction. I went on into New York for the 
weekend. When I reported to the Treasury Department on Monday 
morning, Lyons and Roper told me they had reviewed the F.D.I.C. 
report of the last audit and had called Mr. Frost, who had agreed to raise 
his bid to $120 per share. Coming home, we got an order from Judge Ben 
Dawkins Sr. authorizing the receiver to sell the bank stock on the cour- 
thouse steps on a certain Saturday morning, provided Mr. Frost would 
write a letter guaranteeing to bid $120 per share. J. E. Smitherman Sr. 
was the receiver's attorney. He advertised the sale according to Judge 
Dawkin s'order. We met at the courthouse steps at the proper time, but 
no public auctioneer turned up. Mr. Smitherman said I would have to 
make the sale personally as receiver. So I took my place, explained the 
purpose of the sale and called for bids. Attorney John Tucker, who 
represented Mr. Frost's group, bid $120 per share as agreed. Then sud- 
denly appeared Frank M. Cook and Jake Embry, representing the new 
Commercial Bank. Frank Cook bid $127 per share. I kept talking and ex- 
plaining my former connection with the bank and telling the crowd what 
a fine bank it was. Tucker said, "Paul, that's all the money we have!" He 
indicated that I should hush and go home. But nevertheless, I kept the 
bidding going so that no one could say I had not given them a chance. 
Mr. Smitherman, John Tucker and I had agreed to drive over to Monroe 
to get the judge's approval of the Frost purchase so that the Sunday paper 
could carry the news. But Mr. Smitherman, Frank Cook and I made the 
trip. Bill Henderson had called the judge to try to get him not to approve 
the sale; so he knew a different group would appear. His first words to 
us were, "I'll sign it anyway." And he did. As we were leaving, the judge 
called me back and said, "Paul, I wish you would write me a letter which 
I can put in my file to show why I signed it." This I did. But he had 
already signed the order! The fight went on and on, but my tale is told. It 
is best to forget some things. 

I now close these memoirs. I have had a full life, and I hope a fruitful 
one. These memoirs will supplement the information contained in the 
taped conversation between the late Dr. Walter Lowrey and me. My 
generation is over. I must not intrude on coming generations. The future 
is yours. Make the most of it. And may God bless you. 

PaulM. Brown Jr. 
July, 1980 



Part II 

A Conversation 

Between Paul M. Brown Jr 

and Dr. Walter Lowrey 



The late Dr. Walter Lowrey taught history at Centenary College 
before his death in 1980. As part of an oral history project, Dr. Lowrey 
interviewed Paul M. Brown Jr. several times. Much of the conversation 
concerned Centenary and Mr. Brown's long association with the college. 

The following transcript is taken from tape recordings of those inter- 
views. The material was edited and rearranged to read chronologically . 
However, the substance of the interviews is intact. 



23 



The Early Years, 1893-1919 

The family of Paul M. Brown Jr. has long been associated with 
Centenary College and the Methodist Church in Louisiana. Education, 
religion and public service have been family traditions. Brown's father 
and grandfather were Methodist ministers, and his father served as head- 
master of several schools, including Johnston Collegiate Institute. His 
great-grandfather was on old Centenary's first board, and his great 
uncle, George H. Wiley, was a professor of Latin and Greek at old 
Centenary for 41 years. 

In contrast to his ancestors, Brown's Centenary experiences took 
place on the college's new campus in Shreveport , Louisiana, after the 
turn of the century. His education and experiences candidly describe stu- 
dent life on the new campus. His classical education and his comments 
on the pre-World War I curriculum provide a vivid contrast to present- 
day college studies. 

Brown's early life was greatly shaped by his father, who traveled 
frequently and who moved his family every four years according to the 
Methodist conference's practice, and by his other scholarly ancestors 
who influenced his decision to become a teacher. Young Paul received his 
first taste of the business world in his part-time job at a lumber company 
and sawmill when he was a teen-ager. And after graduating from both 
Centenary and Southern Methodist University, he got his fill, as he put 
it, of world travel while serving in France during World War I. 



Lowrey: Mr. Brown, where did the Browns and the Perrys come 
from? 

Brown: My grandfather, Thomas Walthall Brown, lived at Wood- 
ville, Mississippi. A Miss Smith came down from New York as a private 
teacher for the Brown family, and she and my grandfather got married 
and had a big family. I think there were eight in the family, boys and 
girls. My father was the youngest. 

L: What about the Perry side? 

B: The Perrys evidently had a farm. He had slaves, and they made 
brick. I think they lived right out of Jackson (Louisiana). 

L: Everything I have read said the bricks that he made for the 
original Centenary College were made on his own property at the back 
of the college property. 

B: I remember her (my grandmother) telling us about her and her 
mother making a boat trip from New Orleans over to the South Texas 
Coast. Where they landed, I don't know, but she got a job teaching 
school in Gonzales, Texas. 

L: Which one of your grandfathers do you remember? Or did you 
know both of them? 

B: I didn't know mother's father, but I knew father's father quite 



24 The Paul Brown Era 



well. When my father was headmaster of the Johnston Collegiate In- 
stitute at Greensburg, Louisiana, he got Grandfather Brown down there 
to teach Greek. 

L: Thomas Walthall Brown? 

B : Yes. I started Greek with a textbook that he used. It was the first- 
year Greek by White. 

L: Did he teach you, or did you learn on your own? 

B: He didn't teach me. The fact is I wasn't that old. When I came to 
Centenary in 1909, I told Dr. William Lander Weber that I wanted to 
learn Greek. It was my ambition to learn Greek for teaching. I showed 
him this Greek book by White, and he said, "That's one of the best." So 
he taught me. I was the only one in the class. He taught me at night, 
because he didn't have time in the daytime. He was very ac- 
commodating. 

L: Was he a good teacher as well? 

B: He was a good teacher and a great man. He was one of the in- 
dividuals, I guess, who had more influence on my life than most 
anybody else. I had such a deep admiration for him. 

L: What about your being a preacher's son? Was your father the 
first one in the family to be a minister? 

B: No, my grandfather, Thomas Walthall Brown, was a Methodist 
minister. 

L: So Centenary was almost an inheritance for you. What about 
your mother? The preacher's wife always has about as big a job as the 
preacher himself. 

B: She did not participate in my father's ministry. Her main purpose 
was to keep him in good health as well as she could. She kept him sup- 
plied with the things he needed, and she was, I think, the ideal preacher's 
wife. She submitted everything of hers to him. 

L: In the days when you were growing up as a Methodist minister's 
son and moving with him from town to town, how did you feel about 
these moves? Did you think anything about it or were you just ready 
to go? 

B: No. We were ready to go when father came home from con- 
ference. We didn't know where we were going, but every four years there 
was somewhere else to go. He was on his way up. My father seems to 
have been quite an orator from what all of the young ministers said who 
came up about the same time. Of course, I always thought he was a fine 
speaker, but that was natural. 

L: Mr. Paul, did you come to Centenary because your father was in 
the conference? 

B: No, I had been pretty well brought up with Centenary in my 
blood, and it was my ambition to go to Centenary. I never had any idea 
of going anywhere else. Well, you see, both of my grandfathers went to 
Centenary. My great-grandfather was a member of the first board. I 
have known Centenary all of my life. I didn't know that there was any 
other school. 



"A Conversation" 25 



L: Had you seen the old campus when you were a child? Do you 
remember seeing it? 

B: No. The first time I saw the old campus was after I had finished 
my college work at Centenary and lacked three units of the required 
credits for a diploma. I went down to LSU and finished them down there. 
The LSU campus was over where the Pentagon is now, and I stayed in 
the Pentagon. It was during this time that I had a chance to visit the old 
Centenary campus. 

L: When did you first come to Centenary? 

B: Centenary opened in Shreveport in September, 1908, and my 
brother Perry and I came up here in January, 1909. 

L: Was it the middle of the year? 

B: Yes. We always moved in the middle of the year, and we always 
had to change schools in the middle of the year. If we didn't watch it, we 
would drop a whole year. We knew and it was finally recognized that 
that was not the time of the year to move everyone in the conference. But 
it was a long time before all the conference recognized this. This was 
something that had been handed down for years. 

L: I've been back through some old church records and at almost 
every conference it seemed as if the members of the conference would 
petition the bishop to change the time of the conference to the summer, 
but the next year they would be right at mid- winter again. 

B: Of course, the bishop always lived some distance away. He 
would come and meet with his presiding elders and cabinet, and he 
would get reports from them on the various situations in Louisiana. 
From that, the preacher had no recourse, and if the cabinet was against 
him, it was just too bad. 

L: So you and your brother came in 1909? 

B: Perry and I came to Centenary in January, 1909. 1 stayed through 
until commencement, and I came back in the fall. We were living in Alex- 
andria at that time. Around Thanksgiving, I took chills and malaria 
fever. I remember that Dr. J. C. Willis Sr. came to see me and told me he 
was going to send me home. He said, "You can't do anything here." I 
went on home and stayed there until the fever broke, and then we moved 
from Alexandria over across the river into pine trees and out of the 
swampy land. Around Alexandria it was pretty bad. Mother insisted 
that we get out. I spent all the rest of the next spring out there and seemed 
to have improved during the spring. Sometime in the summer or early 
fall I had a telephone call from the Trout Creek Lumber Company, 
where I had worked back in 1906 as an office boy. They offered me a job 
as a timekeeper, which I accepted. I went up there and was timekeeper 
for over a year. 

L: What town did you live in? 

B: I lived in Trout, Louisiana. My father had been sent up there as 
pastor about 1906 and 1907. The lumber company and sawmill had built 
a town site, and every house in town was just alike except some were 



26 The Paul Brown Era 



large and some were small. They had assigned a home to a minister, so 
we lived there. My job with the lumber company was pretty hard. I was 
subject to a little of everything. And I learned some bookkeeping. I 
would go out on the yard in the morning with the time books of every 
department, leave a time book with each and go back in the afternoon 
and pick the time book up, bring it into the office and record the time. 
This got me very familiar with the timekeeper's office. 

L : About how many people were working there? 

B : I would say about 400 or 500. It was a pretty big mill. 

L: Well, that alone was enough to keep anybody busy. 

B: That's right. I worked with the timekeeper, and he soon had me 
doing most of his work. But it didn't hurt me because I later got a job of- 
fer based on that experience. My father was appointed presiding elder of 
the Shreveport District at the 1912 conference. Of course, the whole idea 
was for the three boys to go to Centenary. Bishop Ward was the 
Methodist bishop at that time, and he and my father seemed to be pretty 
close. My father had been serving as presiding elder of the Alexandria 
District for several years, and the bishop moved him up to Shreveport as 
presiding elder for the Shreveport District. This was something rather 
unusual. So I'm sure it was because the bishop just wanted to make it 
easier for father to send three boys to Centenary. 

L: Where did your family live when you moved to Shreveport? 

B : At first we rented in the 500 block of Merrick Street, and then we 
rented a house at 2001 Highland. When we moved, Walter Armstrong 
was minister, and he preached the first sermon we heard here. 

L: The college was still under construction when you came, wasn't 
it? Were they using all of Jackson Hall, or was it completed? 

B : Yes, it was completed when I got here. 

L: What was Jackson Hall like? Did you live there or did you stay at 
home? 

B: No, we lived there. Perry and I had a room up on the third floor. 
There were four floors at the time, and we were right down the hall on 
the east side from the president's quarters. 

L : He lived in there too? 

B : Oh, yes. Everything was in there. 

L: How old were you? 

B : Fifteen years old. 

L: You and your brother were both taking high school courses? 

B: Yes. I had just turned 15 on November 1, and I was older at that 
time than I ever have been since. I was just of a serious nature. I was not 
after a lot of fun. I just wasn't. 

L: What kind of facilities for living did they have? Did they have 
bathrooms and running water? 

B: Yes, down in the basement on the west side there was a 
bathroom, all the shower baths and toilets across the hall, along with the 
steam boiler that heated the building. It was fired by gas. In the front in 



"A Conversation" 27 



the basement were the laboratories for physics and chemistry. On the 
east side was the dining room and kitchen. 

Just above the dining room, which was in front, was the library, and 
then there was a classroom in the other end of the east side. The rest of 
the second floor was all classrooms except the west side. It was the 
assembly room, and we had chapel in there every day. 

Then everything above the second floor was bedrooms for the 
students and the professors, who all lived there. The college couldn't pay 
them much in cash, so it gave them their board and room. It couldn't pay 
cash for teaching, because there just wasn't much. There were bathrooms 
on each floor. I think there were bathrooms at each end of the hall — one 
was for girls and one for boys. 

L: So they had co-ed dormitories then? 

B: Yes. Of course, all the professors and their wives lived there too. 

L: I guess you couldn't have gotten into too much trouble with a 
professor between each student. 

B: I think there were four or five instructors, and they covered 
everything. 

L: When you came to Centenary, the curriculum was pretty well 
laid out for you, wasn't it? Didn't you have to take certain subjects? 

B: That's right. There was some Latin in the curriculum and Greek. 
That was the course curriculum, and there weren't any electives. 

L: When you first came, it wasn't all college, was it? 

B : No, I did all of my high school work there. 

L: About how many students were there? 

B : I would say in all about 125. 

L: Were there more town people than boarding students? 

B: Yes, I guess it divided about 50-50. 

L: Do you remember anything about the food there? 

B: I was involved in athletics and hungry all the time. We had a 
whole lot of light bread and syrup, particularly at night. We would come 
in and they would fill us up with light bread and syrup. I don't know 
how good it was for our health, but we endured it. 

L: They didn't make any biscuits or anything like that? I guess they 
got it from the bakery. 

B : Yes, they got it from the bakery. It was bought bread. 

L: Did they serve family style? 

B: Yes. Everything was put on the table. There was no serving. You 
either got down there or you didn't get anything, and most of us got 
there. 

L: What about your classes? Tell me some more about Dr. Weber? 
You said that he was probably the strongest influence on your life. What 
was his background? 

B: I don't remember. He was from one of the Eastern universities, 
and I don't remember which one. It just appeared to me that he was one 



28 The Paul Brown Era 



of the smartest, best trained men I'd ever met. 1 

L: You said that you had the ambition to be a teacher of Latin and 
Greek from childhood. 

B: That was because I had a great uncle who was a professor of 
Latin and Greek at old Centenary for 41 years, and he had been offered 
jobs at Harvard, Yale and all of the big prestigious universities. But he 
stayed at Centenary. 

L: What was his name? 

B: His name was Wiley. 2 On this 40 acres out there, there was a 
home that had been a kind of a plantation home. They made it the presi- 
dent's home, and later they named it Wiley Memorial. 

L : Didn't he marry a sister of Robert Perry? 

B: Yes, he was the husband of Robert Perry's sister. 

L: That house in Jackson, Louisiana, is called Roseneath, I think. 
Apparently he used to have boarding students that would stay in the 
house. 

B: It was Robert Perry's home before that, and then his daughter 
lived there. I guess marital ties served to keep Wiley there. And then, 
too, he liked the South. You should have seen that old library that was 
brought up here with Centenary. Every Latin and Greek book known to 
man. There were just hundreds of them. It was a fine classical library. I 
don't know where the Audubon pictures came from, but I remember in 
that old library over in one closet these pictures were stacked on the 
floor, almost a foot deep. I suppose people began to walk off with them 
because there were only a few of them left. 

L: You know we still have a great many Latin and Greek volumes, 
and most of them were brought up from Jackson. They are not in good 
shape, but they are in the attic of the library. I went in there a good many 
years ago and put all of the kinds of books of one variety together. All 
the history books, all the English books, biographies and so on together 
just for my own interest, and there must be two or three full shelves of 
Latin and Greek books. There are some very small volumes. They have 
dozens of tiny little volumes of all the great Greek and Latin classics in a 
closed bookcase up there. 

You said you came to Centenary and studied Greek with Weber in a 
class of one. What about the other classical languages? Did you study 
Latin with him or did he teach that? 



1 William Lander Weber was from South Carolina. He graduated from Wofford College 
and did post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins University. Nelson's history of Centenary 
College says, "He is a cultured, Christian gentleman, an experienced teacher and a 
popular, magnetic professor." 

2 Dr. George H. Wiley, according to Nelson's history of Centenary College, was "one of 
the best-loved men who ever touched Centenary College. They say he looked like General 
Robert E. Lee — large, erect, with flowing white locks, a full white beard, and a smiling face. 
He was so methodical that he took a certain number of steps every day from his home to 
the college, and back again; and he was so precise that you could set your watch by his 
movements. He was never ruffled, never disturbed, always in a good humor, and in his 
early days had been a great student of Greek and Latin and the English classics." 



'A Conversation" 29 



B: No, there was a man by the name of S. J. Davies, a minister, who 
taught Latin when I was taking Caesar. I had taught myself some Latin 
before I came here. I got a first-year Latin book and I learned "amo, 
amas, amat." I knew most of the declensions, and so the first thing I did 
was start reading Caesar. 

L: Did all of the students take Latin or Greek? 

B: There was a good large class that took Latin. There were just a 
few, though, who took Greek. I taught five or six youngsters Greek. I 
don't know how much I taught them, but I tried to. 

L: What about your classmates? Who were your best friends there? 

B: I ran with the baseball team most of the time. We were out play- 
ing baseball in the spring and football in the winter. Clint Willis was one 
of my best friends and A. W. Baird was another. Willis went to Tulane, 
and he was quite an athlete down there. Baird went to LSU, where he 
was captain of the football team. Then he went to the New York Giants 
and played second base up there. When I came back from France through 
New York, I went out to the Polo Grounds and saw Dub play. I met him 
after the game was over, and we went downtown together. He kept me 
from getting lost. 

L: The sports you had were pick-up sports, weren't they? They 
didn't have any college eligibility rules then. 

B: No, there was no such thing as pure amateurism, and there 
wasn't any professionalism either. It was thought to be quite right for a 
college to pick up a young man, if he was a good athlete, pay his way 
and give him some spending money. 

L: What other courses besides classical languages did you have? 
What science courses? 

B: I had a year in physics and a year in chemistry. 

L: Did they teach any business courses? 

B: No. We had one man who taught psychology. But all in the 
world he would do when he came to class was read from his old text- 
book. I remember sitting up there after lunch in his psychology class try- 
ing to stay awake and listen to him read. If I got anything out of that 
course, I don't know how, because he sure didn't put it out. 

L: Maybe you learned patience. 

B: I didn't need the class, but I stayed with it and got my credit. 
Why he gave the credit I don't know, because I didn't learn anything. 

L: Psychology came in before sociology, didn't it? 

B: I don't think sociology was known then. But we had four years of 
history and four years of literature. I took two years of German, two 
years of French and became quite proficient in reading both French and 
German. My younger brother, Ellis Horn Brown, took German with me. 
We were all mixed up you see. There weren't certain classes for certain 
years. You just got what you could and what could fit in with what you 
really wanted. He and I were together in our German study, and he in- 
sisted that we speak German between ourselves and we did. When I went 



30 The Paul Brown Era 



to France in World War I, I could speak French and German pretty well. 
I realized that many years later when I went back over there. I could 
speak enough to get by in both languages. 

L: The thing that you were more interested in and that the college 
provided were the old classical liberal arts with Latin, Greek, German, 
French and English with literature connected with it. 

B: Well, I took Old English, Anglo-Saxon, and I learned some old 
Gothic. This was at SMU when I was taking my master's degree. 

L: While living in the dormitory with professors and their wives on 
every floor, it would have been hard to get into anything. Did you stay 
on campus all the time? Or did you go to town often? 

B: Yes, we would go to town occasionally. Usually to sell some 
advertising to people downtown. They thought it a worthy cause to help 
out a bunch of school boys with an ad. 

L: Did you have a school newspaper? 

B: Yes, The Maroon and White. We copied that from the old 
Jackson directory. At one time, too, we had a Franklin Institute. I was 
always in the Union Literary Society. I was always a literary society man 
because my father had been. 

L: Do you remember about your graduation? 

B: Well, of course, I had been over to SMU for a year because I 
didn't receive my degree from Centenary. They only had commencement 
at the end of the year. So I came back over here sometime in May, 1917, 
and got my degree from Centenary. The next week I went back to SMU 
and got my MA degree. 

L: When did you decide that you were going to SMU for graduate 
work? 

B: Well, the Southern Methodist Church had just organized the 
university. It was opened in 1915. I went over there that year hoping that 
I would get my degree from there, because I knew it was going to be a 
much larger school and I would have a better opportunity in life. 

L: My mother's uncle was involved with the founding of that 
university. Their students concentrated on the languages, Latin and 
Greek. Did you study Greek there? 

B: Yes, I studied Greek there, too. I took my fifth year in Greek and 
my seventh year in Latin there under Dr. Mcintosh, who was quite a 
good teacher. In fact, toward the close of the year I told him I was going 
to come over to Centenary to teach Latin and Greek, and I asked him to 
write me a letter. He wrote me a very nice letter. And then I took drama. 
I read all of Shakespeare's plays and read some modern plays, modern 
then. And then I took the course in Old English for the second time. I 
went right on and studied Anglo-Saxon. For my thesis, I translated all of 
the Anglo-Saxon that the faculty could find. I was getting way behind on 
my thesis work when I contracted some contagious disease. They put me 
in the pest house for about 10 days, and when I came out of the pest 
house I had my thesis in good shape. 



'A Conversation" 31 



L: Was the pest house the student infirmary? They didn't want you 
contaminating everybody else. That was a good way to get you some 
time to finish your work. 

B: It turned out in my favor. I think I had the mumps, but that 
didn't keep me from translating. I got to where I could handle that stuff 
pretty easily. 

L: The Anglo-Saxon? 

B: Yes. 

L: But your aim while you were going to school there and at 
Centenary was to teach? 

B: That's right. But my plans were interrupted by World War I. I 
didn't join the Army, the Army came and joined me. It gave me a per- 
sonally conducted tour of Europe. 

L: Did you marry before you went to the Army? 

B : No, it was after I had gone to the Army and had been notified 
that I was going to France. So I called my wife-to-be down in DeRidder 
(Louisiana) where she was teaching school and living with my father and 
mother. I called them and told them that we were going to France and 
asked them to come on over to the camp. That afternoon, I asked her if 
she would get married before I left. I used to say she pulled me off the 
boat, but I'll tell the truth this time. My father went to the courthouse 
downtown and took the bride-to-be and got the license. You didn't have 
to be examined then. We got Rev. Jameson, a Methodist preacher, to be 
a witness along with my mother, and my father was the preacher. We 
were married July 30, 1918. 

L : What about your engagement ring? Where did you get that? 

B : She didn't get a ring. While I was away, she kept on teaching in 
DeRidder. They were there when I came home. I met them in Lake 
Charles. They drove down to Lake Charles, I came over from France, 
and I got there before they did. 

L: When you were drafted from Shreveport, where did you go? 

B: Camp Beauregard down in Alexandria. I went down there in 
May, June, July and August. In August, we caught a troop train to New 
York, Camp Mills out on Long Island. We came back in when our boat 
got ready to load and loaded in New York. About 2,300 of us shipped 
out of there to France. We had 500 in our 114th field signal batallion. We 
went over in a convoy. 

L: What was the name of your ship? Was it a regular passenger 
vessel or had it been converted? 

B: It was the DeKalb and had formerly been the Prince Eitel 
Frederick. 

It was interned in New York at the beginning of the war. The funny 
thing happened about that. We went over on that boat at the end of the 
convoy. We had 13 guns and a bunch of depth bombs. We were protect- 
ing a bunch of passenger ships. We were out on the right and a cruiser 
was out on the left. There was a battleship in front, a battleship bringing 
up the back and the rest were just steam ships. Out in the middle of the 



32 The Paul Brown Era 



Atlantic our ship started to shooting, circling and dropping depth 
bombs. Somebody had detected a submarine just below us. 

When we got through circling around and dropping these bombs, 
we looked over and there wasn't a boat in sight. We were out in the mid- 
dle Atlantic all by ourselves. Of course, we steamed ahead as fast as we 
could and caught up with the convoy. It was then protected by a bunch 
of these little ships with blinking lights. After we had been out on the 
Atlantic about two weeks, we landed at Brest and camped out at a rest 
camp. 

After we came home, I read a story in American magazine. They 
told about this Prince Eitel Frederick, which became the DeKalb when 
rechristened. It crossed the Atlantic Ocean a number of times, and yet 
when they put it in dry dock over here to go over it after the war, they 
found that the main shaft had been sawed almost in two. The Germans 
thought that it wouldn't do us any good because it would break when we 
put pressure on it. I thought what would have happened if that thing had 
broken when we were out in the middle of the Atlantic. 

L: What did you do in the war? 

B: We were in the signal corps and were very poorly trained. We 
only had three months of training over on this side. We moved inland 
after we had been at Brest for several days. We got on a "40-and-8" train, 
forty men on one cattle car built to hold 40 men and eight horses. All you 
could do was lie down, but there wasn't enough room on the floor for 
everybody to lie down at the same time. It was really ridiculous. We 
moved into another place called Chiternay. There we had a daily drill for 
several months, and then we got on another "40-and-8" and moved 
down to St. Florent south of Paris. We trained there until we were sup- 
posed to be ready to go to the front. I don't know who proposed it, but 
somebody did. They put us on another "40-and-8" and we went through 
Paris. As we went through Paris, the newsboys were selling papers and 
the big cry was that the armistice had been signed several days before. 
But that didn't stop us. We were scheduled to go up to the front, and we 
went up and stopped just a few miles from Verdun. The lines had bent 
and they came back on both sides. We were on that point between Ger- 
mans on the left and Germans on the right. From then on, they tried to 
see if they couldn't shoot up all the ammunition they had. 

L: Did you ever shoot at anybody? 

B : No, I never did. I never did have a gun. I had a knife and a pair of 
pliers. I was supposed to be a lineman. In the front line with a knife and a 
pair of pliers. That was the sole protection I had. We were C Company 
and we were supposed to handle the communications from the front line 
back to the companies. There were three information posts, and we got 
the information up front. 

L: Did they use telephone communication? 

B: We had ground telephone. It was a very poor connection. 

L: Well, how did you feel when the armistice came? Did you know 



"A Conversation" 33 



exactly the time when it was supposed to start? 

B: Yes, and within a few hours we saw the troops coming back. 
They weren't marching. They were just dragging out of the front rank. 

L: Was there a lot of celebrating? 

B : We didn't celebrate at all. We heard about the celebration in New 
York, but we couldn't understand it. Somehow it seemed strange. We 
were all set to die. We were ready to go. I guess you do have a different 
feeling when you're that close to it. 

L: I have been told that in the first year or so the United States was 
in the war that virtually all of the supplies and equipment and everything 
that American soldiers in France had came from the Allies rather than 
from the United States. Is that true? 

B: I don't remember. I do remember seeing just a world of stuff 
thrown away. Sugar, coffee, soap, everything you can imagine, except 
bread and meat. 

L: How long did you stay in France? 

B: Until the spring. Our job had been to try to pick up all of the cop- 
per wire that was spread out all over the field and wrap it up. Then we 
got the order to turn it over to the French, whom we despised. So we 
took it out and threw it in the Meuse River. And then we boarded and 
rode another passenger train down to Marseilles. We were there for 
maybe two or three weeks. They loaded us into the Regina D'ltalia and 
brought us home. We sailed west, and I think about 14 days later we 
came into New York Harbor. When we passed Miss Liberty, we all turn- 
ed around and said, "Miss Liberty, if you ever see us again, you will have 
to make an about face." 

L: What about the feeling between the French and the Americans? 
Was it mutual? 

B: It was mutual. I'm sure it was. 

L: How did you feel about being made to go to the Army? 

B: We all said we wouldn't take a million dollars for our experience 
and wouldn't give a dime for another. 



34 




1908. 



The Centenary College campus in Shreveport, soon after opening in 




The Rev. Paul M. Brown Sr. and Mary Alice Perry Brown, with their 
three sons (from left) : Paul M. Jr., Ellis Horn and Perry. 



35 



v; S^SS 




,s-^¥&\ 




Centenary had been in Shreveport for less than a year when Paul M. 
Brown Jr. (third from right) and his brother Perry (second from left) 
enrolled in January, 1909. Students lived and attended classes in old 
Jackson Hall the campus's first building (bottom). 



36 




Paul M. Brown Jr. and wife Willie Eleanor Cavett Brown with 
their children and their spouses (standing, from left): Bertrand J. 
Greve, Mrs. Eleanor Brown Greve, Mrs. Alice Curtis Brown and 
Charles Ellis Brown. 



37 



A Business Career : 
Banking and Oil, 1919-1940 

The war years provided new experiences and deeper insights into life 
for the young Paul Brown, but it was his earlier work in the sawmill and 
a part-time bank job during his college years that awakened a serious in- 
terest in a business career. On his return from France after World War I, 
he had opportunities to fulfill his lifelong dream of teaching. But his 
business inclinations and the responsibility of a wife persuaded him to 
accept a more lucrative position in a bank. His response to this op- 
portunity afforded him not only personal financial success but also the 
opportunity to be of invaluable service for several decades to his college, 
his community and even his state. 

Through the 1920s he worked as a cashier at the American National 
Bank, establishing himself as a respected member of the Shreveport 
banking fraternity. During the most severe financial crisis in United 
States history, Brown was called upon to mediate a delicate banking 
situation in Shreveport as receiver for the Commercial National Bank. 
Although there was considerable controversy surrounding the outcome 
of his receivership, Brown's reputation remained intact. His ability to 
retrieve Centenary's finances from their dire straits and later his widely 
acclaimed public service to the state of Louisiana provide ample 
testimony to his business and professional acumen. 



Brown : When I came back from the Army, I was thinking of going 
back to SMU. When I got to New York, I had a telegram from SMU of- 
fering me a chair in English to lecture to 250 sophomores. It didn't appeal 
to me at all because I felt like I just would have to learn a whole lot about 
English, and I wasn't prepared. Of course, I had a chair in Latin and 
Greek at Centenary open to me, but when I got back from France in 
June, Mr. M. A. McCutcheon, president of the American National Bank, 
called me and asked me to come help him through the summer and to 
come right then, because he was trying to prepare his first income tax. He 
had decided that I was the one that he wanted to make up his first income 
tax. So I made out the income tax report, and we sent it in. 

Lowrey : Did he have to pay much income tax? What was the tax? 

B: It was a very small amount. I think it was two percent or 
something like that. But there were a whole lot of deductions and things 
like that. A long form has always been tough. 

L: Did you have a background in accounting? 

B: No, but I had worked at the bank in the summertime. He kept on 
insisting that I stay with him, and he offered me a considerable amount 
of money — more than I could have gotten in school. I had done some 
office work for Trout Creek Lumber Company, and I had studied book- 
keeping; so I knew something about it. And I had that experience in the 



38 The Paul Brown Era 



summertime down there with him. I would, when I was at Centenary, 
work until midnight at the bank and get up the next morning at six 
o'clock, come to Centenary, leave at noon and go back to the bank. This 
was while I was a student, of course. 

I really liked the business world and banking. I didn't know so 
much, but when I went to Bayou State Oil Company in 1935, after being 
in the banking business for all that period of time, I did know enough 
about bookkeeping to revamp all of the accounting and the statements 
for Bayou State Oil Company to make them shorter and more correct. 

L: The second year after the reorganization of the college, didn't 
you leave the banking business? 

B : Well, I became president and general manager of the Bayou State 
Oil Corporation and moved my activities to Hosston, Louisiana, keeping 
an office in Shreveport, and I began to learn what it was all about. I 
knew absolutely nothing. Somebody might say that I still don't know 
anything. 

L: Was this the oil business? 

B: Yes. Over a period of years we rebuilt the run-down concern that 
had been managed by two lawyers in Shreveport who didn't have time to 
bother with it. One of them would come in the office almost every day 
and report on the Bayou State. 

L: I know during the Depression so many banks in the country went 
under. Was your bank in difficulty? 

B: Our bank, American National Bank, was a farmers' bank and 
made quite a few real estate loans on collateral that we always thought 
was perfectly good. But in this Depression, we saw major stocks go 
down to one fourth of a point. You can't imagine how low collateral got. 
Of course, the bank was full of that kind of collateral and real estate just 
froze solid. You couldn't get anything for a piece of real estate. Real 
estate, I guess, was the death of most banks. 

Two of us went over and talked to the management of Commercial 
National Bank which was not in much better shape than we were. We 
found them willing to put up new capital, and we formed Commercial 
American Bank to take over the American National Bank. Then we 
worked with them for two or three nights and made an agreement with 
them which the bank examiner approved. We called a stockholders' 
meeting, a directors' meeting, put it up to them and they agreed. So we 
got a charter from the state governor. 

L: I know the banking laws have changed some since then. Did the 
governor just virtually say you can have a charter? 

B : Yes, mostly he took it on himself. I remember talking to him one 
night and he said, "I guess you know who is going to have to say yes on 
it, don't you?" I said, "Well, you have a cousin on our board of directors 
who, if you don't watch out, will lose a whole lot of money." He said, 
"Well, I better do it, hadn't I?" 

In 1930, the crisis of the local banks began. This brought me to work 
on an evaluation committee of assets representing all of the Shreveport 



"A Conversation" 39 



banks. Whenever a bank got in trouble, we worked all night, practically, 
evaluating assets in order for us to save the depositors' money. With us 
we had the services of Mr. Jake Embry, who was a national bank ex- 
aminer. Later he became a member of the banking fraternity in 
Shreveport. This work went on through all of the banks of the city ex- 
cept the First National Bank and the City Savings Bank and Trust Com- 
pany. It must be understood that no Shreveport depositor ever lost a 
dime. This was before the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was 
organized with its periodic examinations. 

L: After this committe examined the assets of the bank that was in 
difficulty at the time, would there be inter-bank loans or shifting of 
money? 

B: Usually there would be a re-capitalization. We wanted to be sure 
that there was value in the remaining assets. We did not attempt to save 
the stockholders their money. They had to take the losses. But we 
wanted to protect the depositors, and we wanted to be careful that we 
did not develop a situation where all of the banks were subject to runs. 
That was the reason that I worked until midnight. 

L: Why wasn't the First National Bank and the other bank involved 
with it? 

B: I don't know. They seemed to have been strong enough to watch 
their own group. They took care of their own situations. 

L: Did they ever have any runs on the bank? Any kind of panic in 
town? 

B: Yes, it was a panic. The banks got weaker, and just two years 
later the Commercial National Bank closed and went into bankruptcy. 
The national bank examiner came over here and under his supervision a 
group of directors got together and put up a million dollars in new stock 
to reorganize the Commercial National Bank. I don't remember if it was 
of Shreveport or in Shreveport. But that little preposition was the dif- 
ference. It closed up as one bank and opened up as another bank the next 
morning. 3 

The new bank, of course, had control of the assets of the old bank. 
But those assets had to be liquidated. That was in 1932. By 1936, I 
believe, they had gone three or four years under a committee of the old 
bank stockholders. They could not have cared less about the liquidation 
of the bank. But the new bank called on me and said, "Will you be 
receiver if we get the comptroller to appoint one." I said yes. 

L: What was your job at the time? 

B: At the time, I was president of Bayou State Oil Corporation and 
also really in control of operations at Centenary College. So when I got 
receivership, I had three jobs. I never did have to look for a job. I was ap- 
pointed, but they sent a man down here for 90 days to make a complete 



3 The original Commercial National Bank was of Shreveport and the new Commercial 
National Bank was in Shreveport. 



40 The Paul Brown Era 



report. When he got his job done, I was appointed. The clerk liked it 
down here and wanted to stay with me, so I gave him the job. We work- 
ed on it for two years. 

We finally, of course, did liquidate. But it was in the hands of the 
new Commercial National Bank, and I could not liquidate anything 
without getting their consent. My hands were rather tied. And they 
didn't want to hurry things. Well, that did not suit the comptroller's of- 
fice. They said they owned controlling interest. The old Commercial was 
required to pledge all its assets to enable the new bank to finance the 
operation. As pledgee they had full operation, and I had to approve any 
partial settlement and to get the approval of the comptroller of currency 
in Washington. My friends there made my reservations at the 
Washington Hotel, the home of Vice-President John Nance Garner. We 
ate breakfast the same time every morning. Mr. Garner never had his 
meals sent up to his room, but came down to eat with the commoners. 

The Continental Bank and Trust Company of 1930 was re-organized 
in 1931 as the Continental Trust and Savings Bank. Then it had to be re- 
organized, so we set up a bank as Continental American Bank and Trust 
Company in 1932. The Continental American Bank and Trust Company 
had $700,000 capital. The Commercial American side owned $300,000 
and the Continental American side of the house owned $400,000. 

The Commercial American side resented the Continental American 
Bank and Trust Company. There was just a consolidation of two banks 
there. There was not a closing or anything. But we had better capital 
stock and more leadway, so my receivership owned $400,000 of this 
merged bank. We had a busted bank with controlling interest of a good 
solid bank. I knew it was, because I had been cashier of it. I had been on 
the loan and discount committee, and I had practically been vice- presi- 
dent. I met with the loan committee, and I knew what was in the bank. 
So the first thing they wanted me to do was to sell the Continental 
American Bank stock, and I finally did it by talking to Mr. E. A. Frost. A 
group got together with two vice-presidents of the Continental American 
Bank among them and offered to buy it for $117.50 per share. 

I called the boys in Washington. The deputy comptroller was Gibbs 
Lyons, a Georgia boy, and the head of the Insolvent Division of National 
Banks was Walter Roper, another Georgia boy. We were soon good 
friends, and the first thing they did was to ask me to come up and see 
them. When I got this offer of $117.50 from Mr. Frost, I told him that I 
would have to take it up with Washington, but I thought it was a good 
offer. I would recommend that it would be put up for public auction, and 
he would be required to guarantee that he would make a bid of $117.50 
per share. I said if the comptroller sells the bank without giving 
somebody else a chance at it and takes the lesser amount, he would suffer 
much criticism. Mr. Frost agreed with me. So I called Washington and 
told them that I had this offer. They suggested that I come up there and 
they authorized the expense of the trip. I told them that I would like the 
comptroller of the currency to get the Federal Deposit Insurance Cor- 



"A Conversation" 41 



poration report. They had sent around an examiner and had had ex- 
aminations made of all the banks that were insured, and they knew this 
bank was insured. I asked them to get it, study it and see what they 
thought about it. 

The only way to go to Washington then was by train. It took two 
nights and a day. When I got there, I went to see the deputy comptroller, 
Gibbs Lyons, and the head of the Insolvent Division, Walter Roper. I 
went to New York City over the weekend, and when I came back Mon- 
day morning and came into their office, they said, "Well, we have got 
your offer raised. We made you $10,000 while you wete gone. We called 
Mr. Frost and he agreed to raise his bid to $120 a share. He agreed that he 
would abide by the conditions that the stock be sold." 

Well, I asked them to write me a letter and tell me not to sell the 
stock without putting it up for public auction on the courthouse steps. So 
they said, "Well, we will give you a secretary, and you write the letter to 
yourself." They signed it, and I brought it on down here and took it to 
my attorney, Mr. J. E. Smitherman. I inherited him from the first 
receiver when I became receiver. Deep in my bones I felt that the new 
Commercial Bank would not sell that stock at that price. They would, I 
thought, bid high on it. 

L: Were they in good shape? 

B: Yes, they were in good shape. They were good bankers. Well, I 
turned it over to Mr. Smitherman and told him he would have to get a 
court order. I gave a copy of the letter to him, and he went to the judge, 
Judge Dawkins. 

L: Was he a federal judge then? 

B: Yes, Ben Dawkins Sr. was the federal judge". The judge signed an 
order. I had asked him to draw up an order for the judge to sign that 
would be in the same words as that letter. He got it signed, and the date 
was set. We had this sale on Saturday morning, and the bank was sup- 
posed to open up under new hands Monday morning, so that there 
wouldn't be any upset. Well, I couldn't get a public auctioneer, so Mr. 
Smitherman said, "Why don't you just do it yourself?" So I did. I was 
authorized to sign as auctioneer. So I got out there. 

L: Was this at the courthouse? 

B: Yes, this was on the courthouse steps. 4 I put the shares up for sale 
and asked for bids. I told them the conditions under which it was, and I 
explained that it was an excellent going bank and that I highly recom- 
mended it as a good operation and investment. And then Mr. John 
Tucker, attorney, presented the bid of $120 a share. 

L: Was John Tucker Mr. Frost's attorney? 

B: Yes, he was the committee attorney. And then I asked for other 
bids. Frank Cook stepped up and bid $127 from the new Commercial Na- 



4 The auction took place on the Caddo Parish Courthouse steps, Saturday, May 
26, 1937. 



42 The Paul Brown Era 



tional Bank. I was just certain that this was going to happen. I didn't 
know it but I was quite sure of it. Well, then I kept it open for about 30 
minutes. John Tucker said, "Paul, we haven't got any more money." But 
I kept talking about the value of the bank's stock. 

L: Was there anyone else around there who was really interested? 

B: No, but I don't really know. There was a crowd out there. I was 
having a good time. Finally, I asked if there were any more bids. So I 
knocked it down to the new bank, and they gave me a deposit ticket 
there for over $500,000. I had had to make arrangements for John Tucker 
to drive over to Monroe and get the judge to sign an order putting the 
general sale into effect. So we drove over there, but I had to change my 
party to Sidney Cook and J. E. Smitherman. 

We drove over to Monroe and got the judge to sign it. The judge 
laughed and said, "Well, Mr. Henderson called me and tried to get me 
not to sign, but I'm gonna sign it. I think ya'll know what you're doing, 
and I feel sure the comptroller's office knows what they're doing." As we 
left the room, he said, "Paul, come back here just a minute. Will you 
send me a letter saying that you think this is a good sale." And I said I 
would. 

So when I came back to Shreveport, I sat down and wrote the letter 
and told him that I had been fairly well acquainted with the assets of the 
bank. I was confident that it was a good value. I said I know that every 
bank has some questionable assets, and yet I know that practically every 
bank has some hidden assets. I don't know what the hidden assets were, 
but I think the two vice-presidents of the group that wanted to buy it 
ought to have known. So they didn't go above that. I wrote him a letter 
and explained it to him and put a copy of the letter in my files. 

The receivership had had a world of real estate loans. They were the 
loans that really had sunk the bank. There was no question about that, 
and the comptroller's office wanted all of those cleaned out. I couldn't get 
the old bank or the new bank or anybody connected with it interested in 
liquidating it. And I couldn't get out and sell it myself. So finally the 
comptroller's office called me and told me they were going to send a pro- 
fessional auctioneer down here and they wanted this stuff listed: the 
location, the assets and everything. They wanted this auctioneer to come 
down here, have a public auction and publish a little book showing all 
the real estate that would be sold. Of course, we advertised the thing. 

L: What year was this? 

B: I was appointed receiver in 1937. This was the way they had been 
doing all over the nation at the Insolvent Division of National Banks, 
and a man came down here. He was quite an auctioneer. He really knew 
how to sell stuff, but it was a cut-throat proposition. It was just get what 
you can out of it and get away. So we liquidated it at that auction which 
lasted three or four days and into the nights. 

L: Were there many people around with money then? 

B: No, but there were a few. For instance, one man bought a world 
of it. He put almost everything he had into it. Oh, my goodness, did he 



"A Conversation" 43 



make money out of it. 

L: What happened then? 

B : They changed comptrollers in Washington, and this old band of 
soreheads, as I call them, in the old bank got next to the new man and 
convinced him that we were crooks. 

They called me one day and asked me to come to Washington. They 
told me they wanted me to do some things that I might not want to do. I 
asked them what they were talking about. They said, "We want you to 
file suit for damages against all of the directors of the new Commercial 
National Bank." I said, "Well, gentlemen, I can't do that. They haven't 
done a thing in the world that was not entirely legal and straightforward, 
and I know it and I can't file suit. I will just resign." 

L: Who had persuaded them in Washington? 

B: Bill Henderson, and I won't mention any of the others. Hender- 
son was the ring leader. The bank had charged off $235,000 worth of 
Henderson's loans. So they got another receiver, and when he was going 
through the receivership files, he came to this letter to Judge Dawkins 
that I had written. He mailed Judge Dawkins a copy of it, telling the 
judge that I thought the value that we got from the sale was all right. And 
they took the position that I had used that letter sent to the judge when I 
didn't have to at all because he had signed the order for it to be sold. 

L: That was their evidence that you had influenced the judge? 

B : That was their evidence that I had used the mail to defraud the 
judge. Well, this old shareholder put it up to the Caddo Grand Jury and 
tried to get an indictment against me. Judge Dawkins knew there wasn't 
anything to it, and he told them they did not want an indictment. I got a 
report every day at the end of the day of everything that went before the 
Grand Jury. 

And finally the judge saw that they were going to indict me, come 
hell or high water, so he just sent the Grand Jury home, took all of their 
records and got the secretary of the Grand Jury to come over to Monroe. 
He put the whole matter, before the Grand Jury in Monroe, he explained 
it to them, and they no-billed me. That's the way he got out of it. 

L: Was this Bill Henderson, W. K.'s son? 

B: No, it was W. K. Henderson himself. 

L: How did the stock really turn out? 

B: The stock was excellent stock. And it went up in value. It was a 
good investment, no question about that. 



45 



Return to Centenary: 

Education and Public Service, 1933-1943 

The Brown family's old ties with Centenary College were re- 
established in 1933 when Dr. Angie Smith asked Paul Brown Jr. to help 
save the college from financial collapse. As a banker and as president of a 
successful oil business, Brown brought his expertise and influence to bear 
on the problem. As a result, Centenary weathered the Depression and 
salvaged its financial reputation. Brown first served on the college's 
Board of Trustees during these years, and later he became chairman. 
Throughout, he was a valuable link between Centenary and the financial 
resources it needed to survive and prosper. 



Lowrey: This is the beginning of your official relationship with the 
Board of Trustees. How did you get involved with Centenary in this 
capacity? 

Brown: After graduation I knew very little about the operation of 
Centenary College. In 1923, after the death of my father, I lost my con- 
nection with and knowledge of the Louisiana Conference. In the spring 
of 1933, Centenary was first brought to my attention by Dr. Angie 
Smith, who had been pastor of the First Methodist Church in Shreveport 
and had been serving for a year and a half as acting president of 
Centenary College in addition to his duties at the First Church. He came 
to my desk at the bank and asked me if I would accept the presidency of 
Centenary College. I told him, "No." I didn't know any conditions under 
which I would. 

Dr. Pierce Cline, who was on the Centenary faculty as a history pro- 
fessor came down to see me about the same time and said, "Paul, I 
understand you are going to be made president of Centenary College." I 
said, "I don't know anything about that." He said, "I came down to give 
you some advice. Don't you dare touch that until they agree to put up 
the money to take care of all the indebtedness." I said, "I thank you, but I 
don't have any intention of accepting the presidency." Later on, Dr. 
Smith came to me and wanted to know if I would accept a place on the 
Board of Trustees. Having become interested by that time, I agreed. 

The first information I had as to the condition of the college was 
through our outline at the first Board of Trustees meeting that I attended 
in March, 1933, at Dr. Smith's home on Fairfield. That was the par- 
sonage of the First Methodist Church. I then learned that there was doubt 
as to Centenary opening in the fall because of the financial condition. I 
got a pretty dim picture of the operation of the college, which was run- 
ning a considerable deficit every year, with no effort being made to limit 
the deficit or to stop it. I found then that the chief indebtedness was held 
by the Commercial National Bank and the First National Bank. Each one 
had members on the Board of Trustees. Walter Jacobs represented First 
National. Who represented the Commercial, I do not remember. But 



46 The Paul Brown Era 



Walter Jacobs made his motion that a committee be set up and appointed 
by the chairman of the board, Dr. John L. Scales. He called it a 
Roughhouse Committee. 

L: Where did that name come from? Did he have a reason for calling 
it that? 

B: He felt like a committee doing such a job had to be rough. He 
knew they couldn't keep on running at that kind of deficit. Walter's mo- 
tion was passed unanimously. I was feeling pretty sober because the col- 
lege had gotten into this situation. I had not known the condition and ap- 
parently had had no great interest in it. When I got home, I had a call 
from Dr. Scales, whose first question was, "Will you serve as a member 
of that committee?" I told him I would. The next morning I was at 
breakfast when he called me. His first question was, "Paul, will you serve 
as chairman of that committee?" I told him I would. About noon that 
day he called me again, and his question was, "Paul, whom do you want 
on that committee?" Well, I knew I was it. I remember naming B. F. 
Roberts, an attorney in Shreveport and Methodist layman, and someone 
else whom I cannot recall at this time. Even that kind of committee could 
not work consistently over the period of time which was required. 

I spent three months and all of my spare time on the campus, mainly 
with one of the young professors, W. G. Banks, studying the entire situa- 
tion and getting different ideas from him and from Dr. Morehead, who 
was professor of economics. Both of those gentlemen worked very close- 
ly with me. At the end of that time I got my secretary down at the bank 
and we spent one whole afternoon dictating the committee's report. We 
were recommending that the college not reappoint or give new contracts 
to nine particular faculty members whose load was lightest and the in- 
come from whose work was the least. The excuse which we were giving 
was that it would be dishonest to offer them a contract which we knew 
we could not pay. It was entirely a financial problem, and we promised 
them that we would make every effort to raise the money to pay them 
their back salaries. The plan of reorganization was adopted by the com- 
mittee and by the board. 

L: When your committee drew up its plan of what had to be done to 
get the college back on track and agreed to the dismissal or nonrenewal 
of nine faculty members, who was president? 

B : We elected Pierce Cline president at the first meeting of the board 
in March, 1933, at Dr. Smith's home. And when Cline read this plan, he 
came down to talk to me and said, "Who is going to retire these men?" In 
other words, who is going to tell them the bad news? He said, "I can't do 
it. I'm just working too close with them and have been for years. I just 
can't do it." So I figured that was my job, and since I was acting between 
the college and the board, it looked like it was my thing. 

L: Was this the committee that met every morning at breakfast? 

B: No, that committee helped to supervise the operation of the col- 
lege for the first few years on the basis of this report. It was made up of 
Dr. Cline, Bulow W. Marston, Sid Harman, George D. Wray and John 



'A Conversation" 47 



Atkins Jr. All of these men had a very great interest in the college per- 
sonally. I remember talking quite often to S. J. Harman, who was con- 
sidered tight-fisted. Mr. Harman said, "Paul, anytime you just have to 
have some money, you let me know." This was about the time that he 
built the orphans' home in Ruston. I called him one day and told him I 
needed $1,000. I think this was the first time. He said, "All right, come 
get it." So I walked into his office with a whole lot of his men around 
him. He looked at me and said write myself a check and handed me his 
checkbook. So I wrote a check to Centenary College for $1,000 and put 
"donation" down there. He signed it, and I walked out leaving those 
associates of his with their mouths wide open. 

L: They hadn't seen him do that before? 

B: They never saw him do that. As I said the plan of reorganization 
was adopted by the board and was understood that I should act between 
the board and the college. This I did for five years. I wrote budgets, sign- 
ed checks and supervised all of the financial arrangements. T. L. James at 
one time became chairman of the board, succeeding, I think, Dr. Scales. 
Through Mr. James' efforts, the bonds were paid off. 

Each year during Dr. Sexton's presidency, the college had run up in- 
debtedness by reporting to the conference that all bills had been paid. 
They were. They were transferred to the banks. These loans were made 
by Commercial National Bank and First National Bank. Sexton just fail- 
ed to report this part of the negotiation. And I'm sure the conference was 
thinking that all of the obligations had been paid and the college was in 
beautiful shape. 

One day about the time of the Depression the situation had to be 
resolved. Dr. Sexton had to go to the conference and tell them just exact- 
ly what the condition was. He persuaded them at that time to issue Loui- 
siana Annual Conference bonds in the amount of $300,000. As I 
remember it, $250,000 went to the banks, at 50 percent each. Fifty thou- 
sand dollars worth of bonds were to be sold to individuals as kind of a 
trust fund. Dr. Sexton was to sell these to certain men all over the con- 
ference who were in a position to buy and wanted to put up some kind of 
savings fund for the future. This was his idea of a good investment. 

Dr. Sexton assured the conference that it would never have to pay 
off a dime because as the bonds came due he would raise the money. He 
had such confidence in his ability as a money-raiser, and he did have 
ability. But he did not realize that we were approaching a deep depres- 
sion which would be worldwide and would pretty well deprive this coun- 
try of its entire capital. Nobody under those conditions can raise money. 
People had their investments in securities which lost all value, and there 
wasn't any money. 

L: Property couldn't be sold either. 

B: All property lost value. If you can't get money out of the proper- 
ty, it certainly has no value. When Mr. James came on the board, I was 
secretary and treasurer and the first eight years I worked very closely 
with him. I remember he had an old Velie, which was made by Ford. His 



48 The Paul Brown Era 



colored chauffeur would drive him from Ruston over to my office. He 
came upstairs to the seventh floor of the Ardis Building, and there we 
worked on plans for operating the college, for keeping it out of trouble 
and for gradually paying off the debts. Mr. James then went to the 
banks, who had long since charged off these bonds. He persuaded them 
to take 50 cents on the dollar for the bonds that they had. 

L: Well, this was really more than they expected to get out of it. 

B: This was much more, but it would have put the college in the 
light of not paying its indebtedness if we had just let it go. 

L : Of course, it would have left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of 
people if at least a part of this money had not been paid somehow. 

B: Well, I guess the banks felt that they were lucky to get that 
amount. I know, though, when we started our building program later on 
it was awfully hard to get any loans from a bank. I did get the loans. And 
I know how hard it was. 

L : In this early period before the bond retirement had come, the col- 
lege used a good bit of script. Was that before this or after, when they 
paid the faculty in script? 

B: We did. This was an IOU. This was some wild scheme of 
economics that somebody started. I don't know who did. I know it was 
used when all of the banks were closed during the dead of the Depres- 
sion. Every bank in the United States was closed for about 10 days. 

L: That was about the time Roosevelt was inaugurated, wasn't it? 

B: That's right. They were not allowed to open until they had 
shown to the governmental authorities that they were in reasonably 
sound shape. I think all of the banks in Shreveport opened up because 
they all had their houses cleaned. 

L: That's what your midnight committee was doing. 

B: That's right. The end of the fifth year, after I began working with 
Centenary's finances, all the debts had been paid and the finances were 
easy. This was due to several things. First, the government had put an 
Air Force Cadet Training School at Centenary. We had 500 young men 
come to the college. We had to give them room and board and instruc- 
tions along the lines that the Army Air Corps needed. 

L: Where in the world did they house that many? 

B: Well, in the meanwhile Centenary had come into the possession 
of the old Dodd College which had been closed up and sold out. It had 
been purchased by Mr. Arch Haynes, and he turned right around and 
gave the whole thing to the college. The college used this. It all seemed to 
fit into what was going on. So we used the dormitory and the classrooms 
over there. The classes that we had to bring over to Centenary, we 
transported by bus. The government was very generous in paying for 
500 and keeping us with 500 for several years. It was a life-saver, but it 
put a considerable burden on the management. 

The men who served in the war were coming with all of their train- 
ing paid for. They got enough money from the government to go to 
school. And if they went to school, they got more money. They were re- 



'A Conversation" 49 



quired to pay it to the college, so we built up our student body that way. 
We had over a thousand in the college, not counting the Air Corps. I 
then persuaded them to let me go back to my job and to get C. O. 
Holland from Minden to come over here at a salary of $5,000 a year and 
take over as business manager of the school. 

L: What do you remember about the Dodd College? 

B: Of course, Dr. M. E. Dodd wanted to organize a Baptist girls' 
school. It was strictly Baptist and a girls' school. They bought that pro- 
perty out there which was owned by the First Baptist Church and built a 
college on it. 

L: Who paid for that? 

B: It was the Baptist Church. Dodd collected from Baptists 
everywhere. But he borrowed some money too. He borrowed maybe 
$250,000, and that was probably the biggest part of it. His college got 
into trouble. Dr. Dodd was always a very close friend of mine. He told 
me several times that he wished he had had somebody to help him out 
with Dodd College as I had helped out here with Centenary. 

We did fall out one time though. Dodd College had a note to Com- 
mercial Bank, and I wrote him a letter one time and asked him if he had 
any plans for paying it. I wasn't calling for it, but I just asked him if he 
had any plans for it. He was terribly hurt by it. I had insulted him. 

Arch Haynes had bought Dodd College bonds and got into trouble 
when Dodd College failed. He bought them at 50 cents on the dollar and 
turned right around and gave them to Centenary. They couldn't pay 
them, so Centenary got all the property out there. 

L: That was in the early 1940s, wasn't it? 

B: Yes, something like that. Well, we found out it was just impossi- 
ble for Centenary to stretch resources over the two campuses, but we 
tried. We really worked with it. We housed that Air Force School. We 
carried on a lot of instruction. We gave it an honest effort; we couldn't 
doit. 

L: Did you use buses in between the two campuses? 

B: Yes, we used buses. That was a pain in the neck. Later, the Bap- 
tists got the idea that they wanted to take that over for the First Baptist 
Church, and they wanted us to give them a price on it. Well, I didn't 
know what kind of a price to make them. But the board gave me authori- 
ty to go ahead and handle it. I suggested that we get a good real estate 
man to make an appraisal on it. I think the appraisal he put on it was 
$317,000. 

L: Did that include any property other than the property it was on? 

B: It included 22 acres. I took this to the board and they were 
perfectly willing to accept that. I then called Mr. Clair Clark who was 
handling it for the First Baptist Church and told them, "Here it is and I 
am authorized to sell it to you at that price." So Mr. Clark got his board 
to accept that price, and that was the price that it was sold for. They built 
the First Baptist Church over there, and it's a good one. 



50 The Paul Brown Era 



Managing Centenary's business affairs had become a job requiring 
full-time responsibility. Brown's success in the oil business did not allow 
him to continue this responsibility. 



L: The oil business was one of the things that was taking up so much 
of your time, so that you really needed relief from some of your 
responsibility. 

B : I needed to get released from the management of the college, and 
that was my reason for bringing C. O. (Speck) Holland over here. 

L: Who was he? How did you know him? 

B: Well, he was on the Board of Trustees, a big Methodist from 
Minden and president of the bank over there. He always wanted to do 
school work. His father, Tom Holland, had been a newspaper operator 
over in Greensburg, Louisiana, when my father went there some years 
before as headmaster of a school owned by the Methodist Church. 

L: When he came over here, did his desire to get into college work 
continue? How long did he stay with the college? 

B: I felt that eventually he ought to be president of the college, and I 
said something to him about the possibility of him taking over the 
presidency somewhere down the road. Well, Dr. Cline and Mr. Holland 
soon came to a failure to meet minds. I think Cline got the idea that 
Speck wanted to be president, and, of course, Cline wanted to be presi- 
dent. 

L: How did you get to be chairman of the board? How did this work 
out? 

B: Mr. Holland, who at that time was vice-president, came to me 
and said that we needed to elect a chairman. Mr. T. L. James had died, 
and we had not done anything about it for a while. But we needed to get 
a temporary chairman to sign some legal papers. He wanted to know if I 
would accept the position as temporary chairman if the board approved 
it. So he got in touch with every member of the board by telephone and 
came to me and said that everyone had voted for me. It was a unanimous 
decision, so I became chairman of the board temporarily. For 25 years, 
every year I accepted it temporarily. One year, somebody made a mo- 
tion to make it permanent, but I declined to accept it permanently. 

L: You never did get it on a permanent basis? 

B: I never was permanent. 

L: That was 1941 when you became temporary chairman of the 
board, and it lasted 25 years. What about the war years at Centenary. 
That was when we had the cadets and the veterans. Were there any par- 
ticular problems the college had to deal with? During this period Dr. 
Cline died and you certainly had to deal with this. 

B: Dr. Cline died October 10, 1943. Everybody in the country was 
nominated for the presidency. I thought we ought to get a really good 
man. Regardless of how long it would take, we should get a good man. 
And I think we did. We waited until Joe Mickle came along. Although I 



A Conversation" 51 



was not elected as acting president, I was chairman of a committee that 
was set up to operate the college. The committee was composed of Dean 
Hardin, W. G. Banks and me. And those were the men I used. I got Dean 
Hardin to handle all of the academic problems, I got W. G. Banks to 
supervise the office work, and I met with them as often as necessary. I 
made all of the faculty meetings. 

L: Was Mickle one of the applicants? How did he become involved? 

B: He was invited down here, and when he came, he said he was not 
interested at all. He had been to Japan for quite a while — 20 years, I 
think — and he was back in New York at the Board of Missions office. 
He was perfectly satisfied to work right there. But he came down, looked 
the situation over and became an applicant. Well, we sent him back and 
told him we would look into it. I think he got a little anxious about it. He 
came back down here to see me and said, "Why don't we do something 
about this?" I said, "Well, you know, you have got to get everybody 
together on it. You can't just jump into it." He said, "I think we ought to 
get going." He was really anxious to go. 

L: What about the controversy in the 1940s with Dr. Duren of the 
New Orleans Christian Advocate? He was concerned about Centenary's 
finances, for example, and in the Christian Advocate he called for an an- 
nual audit of Centenary and the bonding of everybody. Apparently, it 
got everybody upset. Also wasn't there a problem about who owned the 
college? This always seemed to be a subject of controversy. 

B: Yes, and it was so easy to whip up misunderstandings based on 
that. 

L: Time after time, Duren would write editorials about how the col- 
lege belonged to the conference and how it could do what it pleased, ap- 
parently ignoring the board. 

B: Well, you can understand that the conference's relations with 
Centenary were never good. We didn't get the support from the con- 
ference until just recently. Dr. Donald Webb has probably done more to 
put the whole conference behind Centenary, along with Bishop 
Shamblin, than anyone else. Neither Cline nor Mickle was ever able to 
get close to the conference people. The fault was, I suspect, on both 
sides. We wanted the conference to stay in the back. But the conference 
would merely get back of it and turn it loose. It made the whole situation 
very difficult. 

I guess I had as good a relationship with the conference as anyone. 
The conference met down at Winnfield one year, and Dr. Sexton called 
me and wanted to know if I would serve as treasurer of the conference. I 
told him that I would. For seven years I met with them and each year I 
made reports to them from Centenary's operating committee. Of course, 
they knew my father very well, but I couldn't break down the barrier 
between the conference and the college. 

L: Do you think the difficult relations with the conference was a 
kind of jealousy on the part of the conference or one of its agencies? 

B: No, a good number of the ministers graduated from Centenary. 



52 The Paul Brown Era 



This shows that Centenary had contributed to the leadership in the con- 
ference. But when Mr. T. L. James made his first proposal to the con- 
ference about paying off the bonds, he proposed that the ministers of the 
conference should each be assessed a month's salary. And a month's 
salary out of a preacher's income at that time was something quite 
serious, and it hurt. It not only hurt, it made them sore. They nursed that 
soreness over all those years, and the Advocate was keeping this 
animosity alive. We knew that as long as that situation existed we would 
have a hard time selling the college through the conference. 

As editor of the New Orleans Christian Advocate, Duren was in a 
position where he could give you all kinds of trouble. He was just so con- 
vinced that it was a big sin to dance, and practically every daughter of 
our board members danced and most of the Methodist preachers' 
daughters. Anyway, I guess he finally just faded out of the picture 
without doing anything but causing a lot of grief. 



53 



Development of the Centenary Campus 

Paul Brown not only led Centenary out of its financial straits in the 
1930s, but he also re-established community respect and support for the 
college's program and development. Centenary athletics attracted en- 
thusiastic support from special groups in the community , and this sup- 
port was translated into tangible resources. 



Lowrey: I went back to some of the college's self-studies and to the 
business office to get information about the value of the buildings to get 
some idea of their cost at the time of construction and their present 
value. Using 1964 and 1974 self-studies and the insurance valuation for 
January, 1980, I came up with a total value on buildings plus contents of 
$34,002,000. 

I figured that you were directly involved with every building except 
the administration building, which was built after you retired, Hamilton 
Hall and the Gold Dome — including the rebuilding of several of them. 
And so, if you figure out building values, you were responsible for about 
$25 million worth of buildings at the very least in today's prices. 

Brown : I know the first building I was connected with was the gym- 
nasium, the Haynes Gymnasium. I knew Arch Haynes very closely and 
knew the folks that worked with him, Bonneau Peters, a chief scout for 
Standard Oil of Louisiana, and Lamar Baker, who worked for Haynes. 
Mr. Baker was a big influence on him in his support of Centenary, but 
Mr. Haynes was also drawn into the college by the football team. He was 
a big supporter of the football team. The first thing he did was to build 
that wooden stadium down there. It would seat, I think, 5,000 people. It 
was for football and nothing else. 

L : Where did he make his money? 

B : He made his money in oil, in drilling wells and getting leases and 
drilling up in the Rodessa field. He made his big money in the Rodessa 
field, and he made quite a bit of it. Of course, Bonneau was the big in- 
fluence for the college, but I knew from Lamar Baker that Mr. Haynes 
had made his will leaving Centenary College the residue of all of his 
money after taking care of his brothers and sisters. I think we got 
something like $2.25 million. It all went into the endowment fund. 
Before he died, he agreed to build that gymnasium, and I think the con- 
tract was $105,000. He would not make a payment until I had approved 
it. So they had to bring the bills to me and I had to okay them before Mr. 
Haynes would pay them off. He was a very close friend of mine. I 
thought a lot of him, and he was a close friend of Pierce Cline's. 

L: How did he particularly decide on a gymnasium as a vital thing 
back in the 1930s? 

B: I'm sure Bonneau Peters and Lamar Baker must have persuaded 



54 The Paul Brown Era 



him to build it because they were both interested in football. 

L: In reading back about the football team and the days when 
Haynes was so vitally interested, it seems that a lot of the players in the 
summertime would get jobs working in the oil fields. I just wondered if 
most of them weren't really working for him. 

B: No, they were working for Bonneau Peters. Peters was chief 
scout for the Standard Oil Company of Louisiana, and he would see to it 
that they got jobs. Some of them though may have been working for 
Arch. 

L: One of your financial responsibilities was probably this football 
team. How was the athletic program run back in the 1930s? 

B: Well, that was run from Mr. Ollie Biedenharn's office 
downtown. He and John B. Atkins would meet with the coaches just 
about every morning downtown off of the campus entirely. I had ab- 
solutely nothing to do with it. 

L: They took care of scholarships and everything? 

B : Everything was handled down there. Of course, there was some 
kind of arrangement between Dr. Cline and this committee. But Dr. 
Cline wouldn't interfere at all in anything they wanted to do because he 
was so glad to get it off of his hands. 

L: Well, today they wouldn't let you do it that way. 

B: No, the way they are doing now it couldn't be done, and I think 
it is for the good of the college and the athletics, too. 

L: Well, apparently the sports program got too much for them by 
1940 or so. 

B : We dropped it along about that time. 

But other student activities were developing during that period. In 
1939, bids were received on a student center that was eventually paid for 
by R. T. Moore. 

B: R. T. Moore in his affluent days established a $50,000 student 
loan fund at the college. Loan funds were to be paid by students. It didn't 
last very long because there were so many of them who would go off and 
never come back. 

L: It's just like that today. The student loan funds are the same way. 

B: Anyway, maybe half of it or $30,000 of it we had, and Mr. 
Moore agreed that he would build the building if we would stop the loan 
fund and put it all in with this. I don't remember what the cost was, but it 
was not very great. I suspect Mr. Moore had something to do with the 
construction himself. 5 

L: That front part of the student center is the part that was there 
originally. And that three-story building in the back was added in 1958, I 
guess. 

'According to the "Centenary Board of Trustees Minutes," March 20, 1939, C. O. 
Holland reported that bids were received on a student center. The plans were drawn by 
Edward F. Neild, and the low bidder was Robert Neff. 



'A Conversation" 55 



B : I suspect Mr. Moore paid for that, but I don't know. 

L: He was a very independent man. 

B: Yes, he was independent and so was I. 

L: Well, I can imagine that there might have been some 
disagreements between you two about certain things. He was the one 
who got into it with Huey Long, wasn't he? 

B: Yes. He caught Huey by the throat, pulled out his pocket knife 
and had him backed up against the wall. He was going to cut Huey's 
throat. He was mad, and I think Huey was scared to death. 

L: Mr. Moore had a hot temper anyway. 

B : Yes, and Huey didn't help it any. 



In the late 1930s, the college began once again to get on its financial 
feet. Centenary added an Air Force cadet training school and numerous 
veterans to the student population during the World War II period. The 
school acquired the Dodd College campus and hastily constructed a 
number of pre-fabricated buildings to accommodate this growth. 

Jackson Hall, the original building on the Shreveport campus, was 
renovated in 1940. It continued to provide the sturdy backbone of the 
college until the building boom began in the late 1940s. 



B: Jackson Hall, of course, was the original building on the campus. 
It was built by a voluntary tax that a group of people in Shreveport 
pledged themselves to pay, and over a period of five years that tax 
brought in something over $30,000. With this tax they built a four-story 
building consisting of a basement and three floors on top of it. 

L: Jackson Hall contained just about everything the college had, 
didn't it? 

B : Yes. The basement floor was surrounded by concrete blocks and 
above that was a brick veneer building. Over a few years, the wooden 
frame on the inside came apart and made the entire building unusable, 
and the building was condemned. The college was just up against it as to 
what to use. Pierce Cline was president at that time, and I was chairman 
of the board in 1941. We asked Mr. Marston to ask a contractor 
downtown if he would come out and take a look at the building and see if 
we could do anything with it. He said, "Have you got $100,000?" Mr. 
Marston said, "No, we haven't." The contractor said, "Then there is no 
use in my going out there at all." So he didn't go. 

Well, my brother, who lived in Beaumont, Texas, at the time, 
became acquainted with a firm down there named Stone and Pitts. 
Perry, my brother, was pretty familiar with what went on up here 
through me, so he got Stone and Pitts to come up and take a look at this 
building. They didn't make any suggestions, but one morning rather 
early, I couldn't sleep, and I got to thinking why couldn't we see if that 
stone work down at the basement was still good. We could take 



56 The Paul Brown Era 



everything else off the top, use steel pipe filled with concrete and use 
uprights to carry it. Then we could use the built-up steel frames to carry 
the floors and pour concete floors. When we finished, we would have a 
steel and concrete building. 

We would use the outside walls, pour a concrete belt on top of the 
concrete blocks and reinforce this with sucker rods, which were plentiful. 
They had been discarded up at Hosston at the refinery after being used in 
the field. These would be furnished free. The next morning I got hold of 
an engineer I knew pretty well downtown, one who knew what we were 
trying to do, Jiggs Freeman. I asked Jiggs to come out and make an ap- 
praisal as to the carrying ability, and he reported back to me that it was a 
perfectly sound foundation and should last a long time. He said you can 
put anything you want on top of it provided you secure the inside as I 
just explained. 

L: That would be a lot heavier than the original? 

B: Oh, yes. It was going to be much heavier and stronger, but it was 
only going to be three floors, two floors on top of the basement. The 
basement would have a foot and a half more height. 

Well, we turned to Stone and Pitts from Beaumont and asked them 
to make us some plans, and we took some bids on it. We, of course, had 
it approved by a local architect, because a local architect had to sign the 
plans and inspect it as it went up. So we rebuilt the building, which 
would be solid, have three floors and have a permanency that the old 
building could never have on exactly the same outside measurements. 
We could even use the old roof because it didn't have to be changed at 
all. So that is what we have now. 

L: It is as solid as it ever was. 

B: That was 40 years ago. 

L: That floor type of construction you are talking about is the same 
kind they use now when they do concrete floors. They put up forms and 
pour concrete. 

B: Yes, that's right. The cost of the building was $42,000, and it in- 
cluded $2.50 per foot for 12,000 square feet. It included all of the furni- 
ture for the laboratories. How we did it, I don't know, but we did. And 
how we got the money to pay for it I don't know, but it came. 



After putting Centenary's finances on a sound basis and solidifying 
community support for the college, Paul Brown initiated a new look at 
the campus and its overall development. This initiative literally turned 
the campus around. 

When Centenary moved to Shreveport in 1908, the campus faced 
westward toward Centenary Boulevard. Through two world wars and a 
Great Depression, the student population and the physical facilities grew 
spasmodically, as the needs arose, without much thought of overall 
design. But Brown and President Joe Mickle recognized the need for 
shaping campus development in a systematic, unified manner. 



'A Conversation" 57 



With this leadership, the school developed a master plan for the 
campus and undertook major construction projects. The fulfillment of 
these plans now mark the Brown-Mickle era. 

The face of the campus shifted eastward toward Woodlawn, begin- 
ning with the construction of the Mickle Hall of Science. The Brown 
Memorial Chapel the R. E. Smith Religious Education Center, the 
Magale Library and other buildings are products of this development 
period. The Marjorie Lyons Playhouse, built in the same period, was the 
only structure that did not follow the basic architectural scheme of the 
master plan. 

L: Let me ask you about the plan for a new college. When World 
War II was over, there really wasn't much on the campus in the way of 
permanent buildings, was there? 

B: Stone and Pitts had spent some time in Europe studying college 
and university architecture. They had become pretty efficient in plan- 
ning, so when Joe came here in 1945, our idea was to take what we could 
use over in the west and build from the west. It was by step; there was no 
planning done to start with. Joe got himself a big piece of wood. He had 
those places for buildings, and he put those down around trying to bring 
something from the west side. I was working on it, too. It occurred to me 
one day that we should turn the college around and face it east, and then 
we would have a brand new front to work with. I talked with Joe about 
it, and he immediately changed everything and started working from the 
east. 

Then we discussed this new plan with Stone and Pitts. They were 
doing all of this because of their friendship for Perry and their friendship 
for the college. When they got to the plans for the chapel, Fred Stone, Joe 
Mickle and I made a trip to the Southeast. We went to Nashville, 
Sewanee and to Emory in Atlanta. The Vanderbilt campus is a demon- 
stration of poor, poor planning. 

L: I went to school on that campus, and you are right. 

B: Where they could find space, they would build a building. It 
didn't look like anything at all. I believe our campus looks better because 
of the planning that we did. The present campus was pretty well fixed by 
the plans that Stone and Pitts developed for us. 

L: That part of the campus before the big building program began 
was really a pine forest, wasn't it? 

B: It was a wilderness and there was no street. We had to get the city 
to open up that street and, of course, we had to pay our part of it because 
we had to have an approach. 

L: Once you had decided to move the front of the campus to the east 
and you had a general layout, what was the first priority? 

B: The first priority was the science building. We needed a science 
building. We were short on everything, but when we put the science 
building in there we put in a lot of other departments, too. 

L: Who planned the science building? 



58 The Paul Brown Era 



B : I believe we dealt with Cheshire Peyton and Associates, because 
he had been willing to take every dollar we had and make it go as far as 
he possibly could. He and his crew studied the whole situation and came 
up with that plan. 

L: Well, what about the style of it? Today the most impressive thing 
about it is the facade of columns facing north. It is a most impressive 
looking building, but it is also the Georgian style and all of the other 
buildings followed that. Who picked that style? Was it because the ad- 
ministration building was generally like that? 

B: Well, that may have had some influence on it. I expect they 
thought everything on the campus ought to be similar, but the science 
building is what really set the styling of the campus. When we got the 
first plan, those columns were supposed to be made out of stone. There is 
a world of money in those columns. The stone had to be brought in. 
When they took the bid, it was $1,250,000. We didn't have anything 
close to that, so we put on a campaign for $1,000,000, and we had 
something like a little over $800,000 in cash and pledges. Then we took 
the bonds on these plans. We, of course, turned down all bids. We didn't 
feel like we could go that strong at all. We went to the low bidder, 
Southern Builders and Don Piatt, who had been associated with T. L. 
James over in Ruston. He, Mr. James, Perry and I met over in Ruston, 
and we determined that we would save a lot of money if we made that 
facade with concrete-covered brick. So we went back to Cheshire 
Peyton, and he designed a way to build those columns out of brick. 

L: You know that was very appropriate in that the columns on old 
Centenary were built that same way. They were built of brick, and 
bricks were shaped to fit in, then covered with concrete. I have one of 
them in my office that I picked up down there. The same style that had 
been used originally was very appropriate. 

B: Then we made some other changes. We adopted some cheaper 
fittings. In other words, we cut off a dollar here and a dollar there until 
Don Piatt said he would build it for $1,000,000. Well, we didn't have 
$1,000,000, but I went and talked with Jake Embry at Commercial Na- 
tional Bank and told him that we wanted to borrow $250,000 and go 
ahead with the building. I think I had $140,000 in pledges and the rest in 
cash. In two or three days, Jake called me and said, "Paul, I'm gonna 
lend you that money." So I said, "Let's go boys." After it was over and 
paid for, the college was in pretty good shape. 

When Dr. Mickle retired, the faculty and the board voted to name 
the building the Mickle Hall of Science. We gave Dr. Mickle a going- 
away party. I had gotten up a check for $1,000 to give to him. We had a 
banquet down at the Shreveport Club. We invited quite a few people, 
and I made a little talk, thanked him for his service and told him we 
wanted to make a contribution to a world trip that he had in mind. I gave 
it to him on the basis that he would return, and then I announced that the 
hall had been made the Mickle Hall of Science. I think he appreciated 
that more than anything in the world. 



'A Conversation" 59 



L: I remember that. I was at that dinner. That was the year I came to 
Centenary and that was his last year. 

B: I had to hurt him about that time because he wanted to give 
notice of retirement for two years. The rest of the board, especially the 
more active members, felt that the college couldn't tread water for two 
years. We had to go forward and we needed to look for a new president. 
So the committee came to see me downtown and said we had to let him 
know. 

I called Mickle and told him I wanted to come talk to him. He said 
come on, and I said, "Joe, you and I have worked very closely, and as far 
as I'm concerned I am willing to go ahead and accept your terms of retire- 
ment. But there has developed the feeling downtown that we cannot just 
tread water for two full years. We need to get going. There is going to be 
a Star Chamber session, and I believe you are going to be hurt if you con- 
tinue your plan. For the good of the college, I think you better change 
your plan." 

He said, "All right, I'll retire. " 

Of course, I knew he was hurt. I was hurt, too, because I hated to be 
put in that position. Looking back, I find that I did a whole lot of that 
kind of suffering for the college. I don't regret it now, because I think all 
of it worked out for the good in the long run. 

L: The next major building was the James Dormitory for girls. What 
kind of girls' dormitory did they have before? 

B : They had an old colonial frame building. 

L: It's a wonder the fire marshall let the school get away with that. 

B : Well, this was built back in the old days. 

L: This was one of Sexton's buildings, wasn't it? 

B: I believe it was. I think he got the lumber from some of his old 
timber buddies. When he was pastor of First Methodist Church, Mr. 
Frost and Mr. Moore were his buddies. I don't think Mr. Frost belonged 
to the same church; nevertheless, they were close friends. He was a great 
old guy. I thought a lot of him. 

L: Well, I guess a wooden dormitory 30 years old was getting pretty 
ratty. 

B: It was, I'm sure. We really needed a new girls' dormitory. We 
were using Don Piatt as a contractor for the buildings on the campus at 
that time. He was very close to the James family, and the James family 
heard that we were thinking about it. Mr. James had died, and they 
wanted to build it as a memorial to their father. The building was design- 
ed, I'm sure, by Stone and Pitts. 

L: This picture of the James Dormitory after it was completed says 
"T. L. James Memorial dormitory erected in 1954 was the gift of the T. L. 
James and Company of Ruston." That was the same year as the complete 
renovation of Rotary Hall. Then the chapel was built in 1955 and the 
cafeteria in 1956. Did the James family provide all the funds for that 
building or did the college have to put in something? 

B: No, they paid for the whole thing. 



60 The Paul Brown Era 



Perhaps the most visible monument to the Brown family's long and 
continuing service to Centenary College is the Brown Memorial Chapel. 
Built by brothers Perry and Paul Jr. f the chapel is a memorial to their 
parents and specifically to their father, Rev. Paul M. Brown Sr. 

L: Tell me about the Brown Memorial Chapel? 

B: Well, the first thing we wanted to do was determine a style of ar- 
chitecture. Joe Mickle's idea of a chapel was to seat about 300 people. He 
said that roughly $75,000 would pay for it. When he said that, Perry said 
that we would build it. We had previously given $20,000 to the college to 
be used for a teacher training school. Cline kept the $20,000. He never 
did find time to use it, so we wanted to put that $20,000 as a part pay- 
ment on the chapel if they weren't going to use it for its intended pur- 
pose. So that was agreed. 

After I got to thinking about the size of the chapel, I went to Joe and 
said, "If you build that size of chapel, it's not going to do you any good 
at all. You need a home for the Louisiana Annual Conference. They have 
been shunted about from pillar to post and they have no good place to 
meet." I felt like that would be one step toward getting the conference on 
the campus and in the dormitories in the off-season. We would feed them 
and charge them a nominal amount. But you can't do it in a building that 
would only seat 300 people. I said that it ought to seat 700, 800 or even 
1,000. Of course, it was going to cost more than $75,000, but we would 
talk to Perry about it. If he would take half of it, we would take the other 
half. 

But we wanted to look around and see what kind of building would 
suit our campus and fit in with our other plans. Fred Stone, one of the ar- 
chitects from Beaumont, offered to drive with Joe and me around to 
several places in the South and look at other chapel buildings. We went 
first to Scarritt and talked with Dr. Parker who was from the Louisiana 
Conference. We were not too favorably impressed with their chapel. 
Things were on a smaller scale there. 

L: I used to go to school right across the street from Scarritt, and it 
seemed to me that the chapel and all the buildings were these heavy, 
heavy gothic. Was that what was there then? 

B: Yes, that's right. We then went to Vanderbilt, to Sewanee and to 
Emory University. I don't know that what we saw on that trip was 
helpful, but at least we got to talking among ourselves and considering 
various ideas, and we came up with a New England town hall building 
with a steeple on the front of it. It would hold 600 or 700 people. The 
plans at first had classrooms below, but when we found out the cost of 
all that, we decided we had to cut the cost down to $200,000. We asked 
Cheshire Peyton to redraw the plans and to put the two classrooms on 
the back of the chapel and just make it one story. The foundation of that 
tower was very heavy, all solid brick and steel. 

L: After you got the plans drawn, then what? 



"A Conversation" 61 



B: Well, we started laying aside money here and there until we 
could accumulate enough where we could pay for it by the time we got it 
built. We didn't want to hand it over to the college in debt. We wanted to 
complete the payment. The plans were drawn and we took bids, but the 
bids came in too high. We had to revise our plans to take care of the stu- 
dent religious activities of the various denominations that would be in 
the basement. We just had to forgo that. We couldn't stretch that far. 

But when we knew the money was available, then we told the col- 
lege to go ahead and build it, and we would pay for it. We did a little 
trading with them. We had a bid for the pews and furniture, and then we 
had a separate appraisal for the side chapel. We didn't have enough 
money for that, so I told Joe we would swap off. We would disregard the 
little side chapel and furnish the building or else we would take care of 
the furnishing of the building. So the college agreed that we would pay 
for the side chapel and the college would pay for the furniture. 

We got a bid from L. L. Sam's in Waco, Texas, for the furniture. I 
think it was about $12,000 or $13,000 for everything that you see in 
there. That represented the steeple, the room for the choir and two study 
rooms in the back. I think one of them was to be used for Christian 
education and the other maybe for the choir preparation. We worked it 
out so the choir could come in through the back and go up the sides. I 
believe they come in the side door now. 

L: Yes, they come in the sides. I think about the only person that 
ever uses the back door is the organist. 

B: We had a way for them to go up either way. We figured a choir 
of 30 would be about all they would have. Well, Cheesy (Alvin C.) 
Voran wanted more singers than that. So we let him figure out how to 
seat them. We wanted the central pulpit in the main auditorium because I 
never saw my father use any chapel where there were two pulpits. I had 
no objection to it, but this was to be a memorial to him and mother and it 
just didn't seem to suit his style. 

L: What about the organ? Was that put in the plans or did that come 
later? 

B: Well, we had hoped that when we got through we could put the 
organ in. We knew they could use a piano to begin with, but we left a 
place there for the organ. Then Mrs. Charles N. Cadwallader from New 
Orleans saw we didn't have a pipe organ and she asked if it would be all 
right if she built an organ in memory of her husband. We told her to go 
ahead. We certainly didn't want to deprive the college of such a nice gift. 

The ground was broken for the chapel while I was in the hospital 
from an automobile wreck that occurred at Alexandria on my way to a 
Civil Service meeting at Baton Rouge. 6 As chairman of the Civil Service 
Commission in 1954, I had called a meeting in Baton Rouge and had got- 
ten subpoenas out. I had decided to drive rather than fly, so I went by 
Minden to pick up Herman West, one of the members of the commission. 

6 The "Centenary Board of Trustees Minutes" for May 28, 1954, note that ". . . this is 
the first time in 22 years that Mr. Brown has missed an Annual Meeting of this Board." 



62 The Paul Brown Era 



L: Where did you have your accident? 

B : I had picked Herman up in Minden and we drove down through 
Ringgold to Boyce, where Herman took over the driving. As we were 
driving on Highway 71, we hit that circle just outside of Alexandria, and 
at the place where Jackson Street crosses there was an old car — very, 
very old — that drove out in front of us, stopped and stalled. Well, Her- 
man saw him and I saw him and I braced myself to keep from going into 
the windshield and cutting my face. But it caught my hip. My left leg was 
about two inches shorter when I got out. 

About that time the state police came up. They found out that I was 
head of the State Civil Service Commission, so they got very much con- 
cerned. While Herman went on downtown to the Baptist Hospital, these 
police took me over to the St. Francis Hospital. Herman had hit the 
wheel and was pretty well protected. He was bruised a little, but it didn't 
amount to anything. 

I wound up in Shreveport at the Doctors' Hospital, and Dr. Gene 
Caldwell operated on me. Dr. Caldwell said he would fuse the bone so I 
wouldn't have any pain. He said I wouldn't be able to sit properly or 
stand properly, but I could do a pretty good job of sitting down and a 
pretty good job of standing up. So that's the way I was left. 

During this time, the plans were being drawn for the chapel and we 
worked out the construction problems. We told them what we wanted. 
We had a few plans and we took bids and were ready to go ahead 
because we could do it for $200,000. They broke ground for it in 1954. 

Perry always called the steeple the "upper room." There is a hole up 
in there and you can service all of the lights down in the main auditorium 
from up above. It's very well fixed. 

L: They still use that room in the steeple. Certain groups hold 
prayer sessions in that room. Did the conference begin using the chapel 
right away for the annual conference or did they wait a while before they 
started it? 

B: I'm not sure. I think B. C. Taylor was vice-president then, and he 
used to go to conferences and carry the college's invitation to come. I 
suspect they waited a year or so, but it wasn't too long before they took 
it up. They met several times here and seemed to like it. Then something 
was said about meeting in New Orleans. One of the churches down there 
invited them, and they all met in the hotel downtown. They got stuck 
pretty well with the hotel, and getting from the hotel to the church seem- 
ed to have been a pain in the neck. The next time bids were asked for the 
conference, B. C. Taylor invited them to Centenary and they immediate- 
ly accepted. 

L: I remember when I came up here, the conference was meeting at 
Centenary. It was either the year I got here or the year after that they 
decided they would go to New Orleans, and I think that was their last ex- 
ploit down there. They learned their lesson. 

B: Of course, they were put up on the campus much more cheaply. 
It wasn't the greatest style in the world, but Methodist preachers are ac- 



"A Conversation" 63 



customed to hard times. 

L: I guess before you could invite the conference, you needed a 
place to eat. The old cafeteria was wood, wasn't it? I think the new 
cafeteria was built the year after the chapel. I remember Mrs. Bess Hudg- 
ings was there when I came to Centenary. She would come over every 
time you ate there and ask you how the meal was. I would say, "Oh, it 
was just great." I was always ready and willing to brag on the food. 

B: I remember we used to go by there every Sunday and get our 
Sunday $1.50 dinner. She would feed you all in the world you could eat. 

L: It was always with cream and butter and other rich foods. It was 
always really good. 

The chapel and cafeteria greatly enhanced Centenary's ability to 
serve the college community and the conference. The college had long 
served the artistic interests of the community , on and off the campus. 
The addition of the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse not only introduced an 
award-winning architectural structure and style to the campus, but also 
opened a new era of theatrical achievement in Shreveport. 



L: How did the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse come about? 

B: Charlton Lyons told the college that they would pay for it and on 
their pledge Mrs. Lyons said that she wanted it to be stark. In other 
words, she wanted a plain building. 

L: Well, that is the only building on the campus that varies really in 
style. 

B: That's right. They got what they wanted. Charlton signed the 
note with the college to pay for it, and then later on he signed a note and 
the bank accepted him and relieved the college of the signature. 

L: You probably had to have somebody else to design the playhouse 
to get such a different style. 

B: I think they did. 7 I am sure Joe Gifford had a lot to do with the 
design. You know, he had put on some good plays at the old chapel 
building. They changed that into a playhouse. Of course, they didn't 
have anything like they have now, but they really put on some good 
plays. 

Joe always tried to do what you wanted him to do. One time when 
Joe Mickle was out of town, Joe Gifford had a play going, and he an- 
nounced that it was going to be on Sunday. We hadn't gotten around to 
the modern Sunday way of thinking at all, and Dr. Alexander over at the 
First Presbyterian Church came to see me and said, "Did you know that 
Joe Gifford is going to put on a show on Sunday night?" I said, "No, I 
really didn't." 

7 Samuel G. Wiener Sr., architect for the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse, won the Certificate 
of Merit from the Gulf States Region of the American Institute of Architects for this design 
in 1960. 



64 The Paul Brown Era 



We were having our conference at the time. So I called Joe and told 
him that Dr. Alexander had come to see me. And I said, "Joe, I would 
rather you wouldn't do it with Dr. Mickle out of town." He said, "We'll 
call it off immediately." I don't think Dr. Mickle liked it very much when 
he found out I had taken that position in his absence. But I would say 
that neither one of us was entirely free of blame. I'm sure we both had 
our differences, but we always managed to accommodate them the way 
we thought was the best for the college. 

L: Was Mrs. Lyons deeply involved in theater? Why did they decide 
that they wanted that particular building? 

B: I don't know. It seems that she might have been connected with 
some theater work in her early days. I know both of her boys had quite 
good voices. 8 

L: I know Charlton Jr. had the lead singing role in a play last year. 
Had this area, where the playhouse is located, been cleared before the 
playhouse was built, or was it cleared for the construction? 

B: I think it was cleared for the construction. Of course, back in the 
early days there was 350 feet of land running from the last house facing 
on the street north of the college. Many of those lots had been sold off, 
but Mr. Marston called me one day and said, "I'll take $350 for all the 
property in there." There was a ditch and we had to fill that in to make it 
available for building, but I went to Cline and said, "Have you got $350 
so we can buy this property?" He said, "Sure, we'll do it." So we paid 
$350 and took it. That included some of that land facing that street 
across Woodlawn. This went east of Woodlawn where the college owned 
some buildings. You know, we built some concrete houses up there, and 
we sold some of that to the Episcopalians. There was a lot of footage 
along and we got our money's worth. 

L: What possessed him to sell it for that price, I wonder? 

B : Because he said if anybody got it for a cheap price, we should. It 
was not that cheap, because there was a lot of dirt work to be done. 
Although it was pretty hard to get hold of cash back in those days, we 
had the money coming in on student loans. We kept our finances in good 
condition. 

L: Tell me about that property back behind those houses on Wilkin- 
son, over to Youree Drive. 

B: Well, we had no competition in Shreveport then, and it occurred 
to me that if any property was available over in that neighborhood con- 
tiguous to the college that could be used for the college we ought to ac- 
quire it. I began looking at that area all the way down to Youree Drive 
and realized what a beautiful piece of property it was. Everyone agreed 

8 ln the mid-1950s Mrs. Charlton H. Lyons Sr. was in the audience the night Mary 
Bozeman played Elizabeth in Joe Gifford's production of "Elizabeth the Queen." Margaret 
McDonald's article in the Shreveport Magazine (July, 1957) explains that Mrs. Lyons was 
"so impressed with the caliber of the production that she determined to provide Centenary 
College and Gifford with a theater worthy of the high dramatic standards maintained on the 
local campus." Joe Gifford and James Hull Miller, technical director of the Centenary 
Playhouse and the Shreveport Summer Theater, assisted with the planning. 



"A Conversation" 65 



that it would be an excellent addition if we needed land for the college ex- 
pansion. 

So I got a real estate man and told him what I had in mind. I told 
him to see what of this land he could buy for the college. We kept him 
working over there for several years, and everytime he would bring in an 
available piece we bought it out of our income. I guess in all we didn't 
spend over $50,000. Actually, I don't think we went anywhere close to 
$50,000, and this land is now under contract with a bidder for $777,000, 
I believe. 

L: And then there was the R. E. Smith Building. When the Smith 
Building was built, I was down in Thibodaux and I remember every year 
it would be like Peter's pence. They would collect a little something from 
each church to help you pay for it. 

B: Yes, the conference agreed that they would pay for it, and as long 
as the conference was going to meet here, this would be headquarters for 
the conference. 

L: They paid for the whole thing? 

B: Yes. 

L: I remember when we got our statement from the Smith Building 
down in Thibodaux we were so glad that we had finished paying our part 
and didn't have any more payments to make. 



Other campus developments of the late 1950s and the early 1960s in- 
cluded the addition to the R. T. Moore Student Center, the sale of the 
Dodd College campus and the construction of three new dormitories — 
the John A. Hardin and the George S. Sexton memorial dormitories for 
girls and the Pierce Cline Memorial Dormitory for boys. 



L: I believe the library was built in 1963. 

B: Well, that was the one building that was built on the campus that 
we had enough money to build. We didn't have to renegotiate with 
anybody. It came within our capacity and we signed a contract. 

L: Who was the architect on the library? 

B: That was Cheshire Peyton's office. 

L: It was designed, let for contract and the contract signed without 
renegotiation? 

B: Yes, we were able to complete it without trying to cut the 
building down in any way. If you remember, we stayed with the stone in 
front. There is no bogus stuff like on Mickle Hall. It is a big building. I 
was on that committee and I kept pushing the walls farther out. LSU-S 
was not here then, and I didn't know how big the school had to be to take 
care of the city. Some said it was going to be a school of 1,000 to 1,200 
students. I said, "How do you know it's going to be a school of 1,000 to 
1,200 students? How do you know how many students we're going to 



66 The Paul Brown Era 



have?" Anyway I kept insisting on making it bigger. We got an estimate 
on the building, we raised the money and we had it available, so that 
when the bids came in, we could sign the contract. 

L: Well, the basement was left unfinished. Was that part of the 
original plan to leave it unfinished? 

B: That's right. 

L: I know when we were overflowing with students they decided to 
finish that basement and use it as classrooms temporarily. 



67 




&&Sa6&k&k&iui 



The late Professor Walter M. Lowrey, who taught history and political 
science at Centenary until his death in 1980. 



68 




"Vets' Villa" (top) provided housing for veterans of World War II 
and their families. Thanks to the GI Bill, Centenary's enrollment grew 
rapidly after the war. 

Some outstanding productions occurred in the old Playhouse (bottom). 
Development of the theatric arts at Centenary led to construction of the 
Marjorie Lyons Playhouse. 



69 



v- ,i 



:X<:> 




:&*#' 



Construction of the Mickle Hall of Science (top) in 1950 began a 
development program that turned the face of the campus from west to east. 

Paul Brown Jr. (below) speaks at the dedication ceremony for Mickle 
Hall. 



70 




s§§C : i 



Centenary President Joe Mickle {top, left) with Paul M. Brown jr., 
chairman of college's Board of Trustees. 

In 1968, a bust of Paul M. Brown Jr. was unveiled to honor his 33 years 
of service on Centenary's board. Sculptor Arthur C. Morgan (bottom, left) 
was present for the ceremony. 



71 




Dr. Walter Lowrey (top, left) and Grayson Watson admire Centenary's 
collection of rare books. Many of these volumes were brought from the old 
college campus at Jackson, Louisiana. 

Moving day for the library found these students forming a human con- 
veyor (bottom). 



72 




The Magale Library's size reflected Paul A/I. Brown Jr.'s faith in 
Centenary's future. Students found the new library a spacious and quiet 
place to study. 



73 



Public Service Expands Throughout the State: 1940-1975 

Paul Brown's successful business career and productive service on 
the Centenary College Board of Trustees placed him in position in 1940 
to serve on the Louisiana Civil Service Commission. His tenure began in 
1940 when the commission was established by Governor Sam Jones. 
After its demise at the hands of Governor Earl Long and its rebirth with 
Governor Robert Kennon in 1952, Brown was reappointed as chairman. 
He served for 16 years on the commission. 

He also was organizer, executive committee member and president 
of the Public Affairs Research Council (PAR), a private, non-profit 
research organization that studies the most pressing problems of state 
and local government in Louisiana. Brown was further instrumental in 
forming the Council for Better Louisiana, an action group spawned from 
the ideas of PAR. Finally, Brown recognized the need for research into 
the many natural resources of the state of Louisiana and was among 
those who organized the Gulf South Research Institute, which has offices 
in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette. 

All the while, Brown was active locally on the Centenary board, as 
a representative to the Methodist conference and as local chapter presi- 
dent and district governor for the Rotary Club. 



Lowrey: The Civil Service in Louisiana really began with Sam 
Jones, didn't it? 

Brown: Yes, when Jones was elected governor in 1940 Charles E. 
Dunbar Jr., a prominent New Orleans attorney and civic leader, had 
been working on the idea of having civil service in our state law for a 
number of years, and he finally found Governor Sam Jones quite open to 
the idea. 9 Dunbar later became a very close friend of mine through our 
work with civil service. What happened was that the state legislature, 
under the supposed control of Governor Jones, passed the law. It was a 
simple bill setting civil service in the law of Louisiana. Under the law, 
each president of the five colleges — Louisiana College, Tulane, Loyola, 
LSU and Centenary — was to nominate three men from which nomina- 
tions the governor would select the one of his choice. It was usually 
understood that the governor would select the first man on the list rather 
than make his own choice. Well, Centenary's list went in. 

L: Was Pierce Cline president? 

B: Yes, Pierce Cline was president, but the nominations were looked 
on as Centenary's nomination. He had Floyd James and Sidney Cook's 
names on the list, but he couldn't think of another name. Finally, he call- 



9 L Vaughan Howard in Civil Service Development in Louisiana, Volume III, Tulane 
Studies in Political Science (New Orleans: Tulane University, 1 956), notes that Mr. Dunbar 
had been interested in the merit system as early as 1920 when he actively supported 
Parker for governor. But when Parker's civil service pledge was not fulfilled, he remained 
interested in but received no support for this reform until 1 940. 



74 The Paul Brown Era 



ed me and said, "Why don't you put your name on the list; someone else 
will get it anyway." And so I said, "For that reason, I will accept it." But 
later on I found out that the governor, when he got to Centenary's list, 
knew me, and I was the only one on the list he did know well. So he skip- 
ped over the top two names and selected me. Because of my big 
heartedness, I got to be a civil service commissioner. 

On the first commission was Charles E. Dunbar Jr., who was made 
chairman, a man from Natchitoches, General Allison Owen from New 
Orleans, and I don't recall who was the representative of LSU. 10 

This commission, of course, had to get a personnel director of the 
civil service and his assistant. We got the national civil service people to 
select a committee of three, and they were to make an examination and 
nominate to our commission a man to start the program in Louisiana. 
This man was supposed to be the executive head of the commission, and 
he was supposed to know a good bit about setting up a personnel system 
in the state and make rules. He also had to describe jobs and determine 
which jobs were necessary and which were not. The final answer to all of 
these things had to come by our commission. We were offered a man 
who had been in the state civil service business a number of years in St. 
Louis. He was a redhead named Williard E. Parker. 1 1 

We appointed him, and he had his own organization. He did what 
he was supposed to do, but he had the capacity of making everybody in 
the state, particularly the managers of the different state agencies like the 
Department of Institutions, angry. 

L: How would he make them angry? 

B: By being arbitrary. He would cooperate, but cooperate grudging- 
ly. And there is quite a difference in the two. Once you make one of 
those people mad, you've got an enemy. It just happened that after about 
two years he resigned, and we had to get another man in his place. 

L: By that time, had he written most of the rules? 

B: Most of the rules. had been written, the pay plans had been writ- 
ten and adopted, and we were operating under them, but he found it 
healthy to move to other parts. I think the next man that we got was Dan 
Moore, who was more cooperative. He had, as an assistant, a Louisiana 
man with a world of civil service experience, and he did a very good job. 
Under his leadership, we got things going well. The terms were alter- 
nating. My term was for six years, some were for four years and some for 
two years. When the first two years were up, these men that had been 
nominated for two years were nominated for another six years. Jimmie 
Davis came in at the end of that four years and served well. At the end of 



10 L. Vaughan Howard (see above citation) notes that the members ot the first commis- 
sion were Charles E. Dunbar Jr., chairman; Allison Owen, nominated by Loyola University; 
Paul M. Brown, Centenary College; J. E. Ratcliff, Louisiana College; and Cecil Morgan, 
Louisiana State University. 

11 According to Howard, Parker was at the time personnel director of the United States 
Farm Credit Administration in St. Louis. He had previously been director of the Rochester, 
New York, Employment Service and an assistant professor and director of vocational 
guidance at the University of Michigan. 



"A Conversation" 75 



the six-year term, Charlie Dunbar wanted to get released from the chair- 
manship. 

L: Was that in 1946? 

B: Yes. In 1946, I was chosen, and in the meanwhile Cecil Morgan, 
who was with the Standard Oil Company in Baton Rouge first in the 
legal division of the Standard of Louisiana and then in charge of the 
whole outfit, took Dunbar's place. 

L: Was he the man who had this big squabble with Huey Long? 

B: Yes, he was the one who tried to impeach Long. Anyway, I think 
I nominated Cecil Morgan for Charlie Dunbar's job at the end of 
Charlie's six years. Cecil said, "No sir, I'm not going to take it. We've 
already decided to make you chairman." So apparently I was drafted for 
the chairmanship of the commission. Well, I was on for two more years, 
you see, in that term and in Jimmie Davis's first four years. 

L: Did you have the last two years of Jimmie Davis's administra- 
tion? 

B: No, I had the first two years of his administration. Then Earl 
Long came in and politicized civil service. 

L: How did he do that? What did he do? 

B: All he had to do was to change the law, and he could write 
almost any law he wanted and get it through the legislature. And he did. 
The five of us met in New Orleans and determined that we would not 
stand for it. As a matter of protest, we would jointly resign, so we did 
and sent it in. Mr. Long did with the civil service what he wanted to for 
the next four years. 

Then, Bob Kennon came out against him and Bob was elected. Bob 
doesn't remember this, but he came to see me and said, "I'm going in and 
my platform is going to be to re-establish civil service and put it in as a 
constitutional amendment, and it can't be upset by the governor any 
time he wants." He said, "If we do that, will you accept another appoint- 
ment as chairman of the commission?" And I said I would, because I had 
pretty well gotten my feet on the ground. So Bob was elected. Charlie 
Dunbar drew up the constitutional amendment, and Bob got it through 
his legislature and signed it. We got busy immediately 

L: You knew that had to be approved by public vote? 

B: Yes, but in those days before PAR had become very active, 
anything that you passed out to the state was approved. Sometimes we 
had 40 or 50 amendments on a ballot. There was nobody to question it at 
all, so it wasn't questioned. Well, that commission included Herman 
West, representing Louisiana College; Moise W. Dennery from New 
Orleans, representing Tulane; and an attorney from Baton Rouge. 12 

L: Were the nominations made the same way as the first nomina- 
tions? 



12 L Vaughan Howard notes that the commission members were Paul M. Brown of 
Centenary, chairman; Moise W. Dennery, Tulane University; Redrick B. Fogle, Louisiana 
State University; Charles J. Rivet, Loyola University; and Herman O. West, Louisiana 
College. 



76 The Paul Brown Era 



B: Yes, but we had somebody that cleared it with Centenary for me 
to go back as chairman. Of course, all of the older civil service people 
were off and not available anymore, so we had to get a new personnel 
director and an assistant. This time, the board decided we would pick 
our own man. We would advertise, make inquiries and let it be known 
that we were looking for a man. We had quite a number of applicants, 
and some of them seemed to be pretty good. 

L: Whom did you finally choose? 

B: W. W. "Bill" McDougall. He had been in federal civil service in 
New Orleans and was quite well known down there. We got a good 
friend, Bill Shaw, director of the New Orleans Civil Service Commis- 
sion, to get a copy of the law. We showed it to McDougall, and we asked 
him to read it and consider applying for the job. McDougall read it and 
said that he would be a very sincere applicant for the job. Well, we got 
him in before our whole commission and started asking him questions. 
We were pretty well sold on him, but we had a man that we suggested he 
accept as his assistant. He said he would look at him and see, but he 
didn't know. 

The first thing we knew, McDougall had appointed a man who had 
been with him in the federal civil service system in New Orleans. He said 
he knew as much as he did about it and that he would be the biggest 
possible help. Well, that was all right with us, because we wanted him to 
have free rein. We had become sold on him, and McDougall did do an 
excellent job. 

He was ready right away to put in a set of rules and pay system. He 
had it all outlined, and he had it step-by-step, instead of so many dollars. 
He put in a step system following national civil service. The higher the 
number got, the higher the job and the higher the pay. Well, then we 
never had to change the description of the job. All we had to do was 
change the pay plan to go with it. He had his reasons for doing this, and 
later it turned out to be much more scientific. McDougall did us an ex- 
cellent job. 

L: What about the people who already had jobs at the time civil ser- 
vice began? Were they automatically put into the system? 

B: No, most of them lost their jobs. We took new applications en- 
tirely. We did not automatically do anything. The whole system was 
political, and we didn't want any of that. 

L: You were there when civil service first began. When it was in- 
stituted, did you put people into civil service without examinations, at 
the very beginning under Jones? 

B: Yes, what we tried to do was to take care of all the men in civil 
service at that time who had jobs, because we realized that you couldn't 
fire everybody and start a whole new system. You have to start that 
way, but we were always sure that the administration could make 
changes if they were necessary. We recognized that there had to be a way 
you could fire them, if you had plenty of room. 



"A Conversation" 77 



L: When Earl Long decided he didn't like civil service and was going 
to do away with it, he got the legislature to do it and he fired a lot of peo- 
ple. After that four-year period, when civil service started again under 
Robert Kennon, did you give any special consideration to those who had 
been fired by Earl? 

B: We really didn't. Of course, a man who had been off for four 
years, if he was a good man at all, had gotten a good job somewhere else. 
You couldn't upset the apple cart by discharging too many people over- 
night. You have to let them work in gradually, but we made it pretty 
plain to all of them that if they wanted to hold their jobs, they better get 
into the civil service. 

L: What portion of the state jobs did the Civil Service Act cover? 
B: All except certain elective officials and their secretaries or maybe 
heads of departments, their private secretaries and a private attorney, if 
they had one. 

L: That was really more comprehensive than the federal civil ser- 
vice. Did you ever talk with Earl Long? Did he ever come and talk to the 
commissioners? 

B: No, he just ran on that platform. He announced that was what he 
was going to do, and we told him, "All right, we will quit." This was my 
first experience in the state government system. I was next involved in 
the Public Affairs Research Council (PAR). 

L: I remember going to the polls back in the late 1940s and 1950s 
and finding almost a wall full of amendments to the constitution to vote 
on everytime. You said earlier that that kind of thing happened before 
PAR. Did that specifically have something to do with the founding of 
PAR? 

B: Well, no, the thing that brought on the founding of PAR is that 
nobody in the state knew anything about the finances of the state — not 
just what was owed but anything. When a new governor was elected, he 
was supposed to get in there, determine what the situation was and have 
a budget for the legislature. He was at a loss and really didn't know what 
to ask for. When this became evident to some of the heads of the major 
companies of the state, such as the Standard Oil of Louisiana, it was 
decided that some organization was needed to audit everything and 
determine the exact financial condition of the state for the legislature. So 
these men got together and asked five colleges in the state to call a 
meeting in Alexandria. 
L: When was this? 

B: This was in 1950. Charlton Lyons, who was on the Centenary 
Board of Trustees at that time, was asked to make the keynote address at 
the conference. So the conference was called by these five colleges: LSU, 
Tulane, Loyola, Louisiana College and Centenary College. Each had 
representatives there at Alexandria at the old Bentley Hotel. I was there 
representing Centenary because Joe Mickle had a date somewhere else 
and he asked me to go. Well, I got stuck with the organization when 



78 The Paul Brown Era 



Lyons asked a member or representative of each of the schools to make a 
short address. Well, I don't know what I said, but I talked for a few 
minutes, and whatever I said got me pretty involved in the Public Affairs 
Research Council. 

At that meeting we elected Hugh Coughlin as president. He had 
been talked to ahead of time and had agreed to help set it up and to serve 
as its president. Thereafter, I attended every meeting of PAR, most of 
which were held in Baton Rouge. I think I was on the executive commit- 
tee continuously until 1960. We determined that the information we ac- 
quired ought to be made available to all of the incoming members of the 
legislature. This idea of providing information to the legislature was sold 
to the Rockefeller Foundation, and they put up some $22,000 to get this 
under way. We invited all of the legislators to come for a two-day session 
and we were to pay their expenses. 

Well, we first had the executive committee select a chairman for a 
steering committee for the conference. They got together and asked me if 
I would accept the chairmanship of that committee, and I told them I 
would. The idea appealed to me, and all of the work was to be done 
before the legislative conference. So we set it up. I had several meetings 
with that committee at which I presided, and I wrote the keynote address 
to the conference. 

Unfortunately, I had to leave immediately after that address to catch 
a plane for Denver for a meeting of the general conference of the 
Methodist Church. I had been elected as a delegate to the general con- 
ference, and since these two meetings overlapped, I couldn't stay for the 
second day. I was in Denver for 10 days, working pretty hard night and 
day on the national education committee. 

L: How did this two-day orientation session given by PAR for the 
legislators in 1960 work? Did they like it? What did the legislature think 
about it? 

B: I think it was greatly appreciated. The conference was very 
satisfactory, and apparently my keynote address was appreciated. The 
members of PAR immediately decided that I should be the president of 
PAR. So I was made vice-president, and then I went to the presidency in 
1962. I was pretty busy that year, since I had been elected governor of 
District 619 in the northern part of the state of Louisiana for 1964 and 
1965. 

L: Was that for Rotary? 

B: That was for district governor of Rotary. I didn't feel that I could 
take another year as president of PAR, so I had to decline that. But I re- 
mained on the nominating committee for five years. The five immediate 
past presidents of PAR became the nominating committee for the next 
president. But I knew my hands were going to be pretty well tied for this, 
and also I wanted to go to Lucerne, Switzerland, to the international con- 
vention of the Rotary Club. Those things made it necessary for me to 
decline any second year. I did that before anybody suggested anything 
else. 



"A Conversation" 79 



L: How did PAR work? When it first got started in 1950, did you 
name the man that was called in to get things organized? Did he stay on 
as executive secretary? 

B: No, he stayed on for just a short while, and then we got Ed 
Steimel. Ed was a real crusader. 

L: Where did he come from? When did he first come? 

B: Ed Steimel came from Arkansas, and we got him from the Baton 
Rouge Chamber of Commerce. We got him and he did an excellent job. 
Then he asked to be relieved from office to take over the Louisiana 
Association of Business and Industry (LABI). He was primarily a 
crusader, and he wanted to see things done. 

We all agreed that we were meeting in PAR and were getting a lot of 
good information about things, but the information was dying on the 
vine because we had nobody to really get behind it. Two men from New 
Orleans realized what the situation was and called a meeting in New 
Orleans at the Royal Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter. N. C. 
McGowen; Walter Jacobs, president of the First National Bank in 
Shreveport; Joe Mickle, president of Centenary; and I as president of 
PAR were asked to come to this meeting. 

There were about 20 men there, representatives from all over the 
state. Ed Steimel addressed the need for this kind of an organization, and 
we discussed it pro and con. Darwin Fenner was presiding, and finally I 
made a motion. I said, "Darwin, I'm going to move that you be authoriz- 
ed to appoint a steering committee to decide what is to be done and give 
them authority to go ahead and do it." This was the kind of resolution 
that Darwin was looking for, so he turned to me and said, "Paul, will 
you be a member of this committee?" And I said, "Yes." I was glad he 
didn't ask me to be the chairman of the committee, but I later found out 
that he had decided that he was going to be chairman. We met several 
times and decided to put together some rules and regulations. 

We then called for an organizational meeting at which time a presi- 
dent was to be elected. So the next big meeting we had again at the Royal 
Orleans in New Orleans. Darwin got me to meet with the nominating 
committee that morning. We had already decided to see if we could get 
Hugh Coughlin, who had been the first president of PAR, also to be the 
first president of this organization. We met with Coughlin, explained to 
him what we were doing and why and told him we wanted him to accept 
the presidency of the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL). He agreed, 
so we had our meeting. We adopted our constitution and by-laws, 
elected Mr. Coughlin as president and went home. Hugh called me the 
next day and said, "I want you to be chairman of the personnel commit- 
tee. I will give you the list of big names in the state of Louisiana." 

We wanted to bring labor into this where it could work with 
business, but knowing all the time that it would never work because 
labor doesn't work with business. We had Victor Bussie on it, the presi- 
dent of the City National Bank of Baton Rouge and a number of other 



80 The Paul Brown Era 



well-positioned men. It was really a blue ribbon committee from the 
state of Louisiana. But I had to get a well-known man as executive direc- 
tor of this CABL and got every man on my committee to agree to it. I 
looked high and low. Somebody would nominate a man and I had to call 
everybody on my committee and get them to agree to it, and they were 
from all over the state. Well, Victor Bussie turned down practically every 
name that came in. I asked him one day if he would approve Ed Stagg, 
the second man in the Public Affairs Research Council at the time. He 
was Ed Steimel's first assistant and he was doing a good job. This process 
went on for about six months. 

Hugh Coughlin and I finally went to Ed Steimel and I said, "PAR is 
working so well that I hate to ask you to release Ed Stagg, and I'm not 
going to unless you say it is perfectly all right." But I said, "We have been 
looking now for six months to find somebody that would be agreeable to 
that whole blue-ribbon committee, and Ed Stagg is the first and only man 
I have found that would be agreeable to all of them." So finally Steimel 
said, "Well, I know what your problem is. I will get somebody to take 
Ed's place if he wants to go." Then I had to go to Ed Stagg and tell him 
that he was about to be nominated as executive director of CABL. He 
thought about it a while, and finally he said, "I believe I'll take it." 

L: Well, with Stagg chosen, did CABL get going? 

B: Yes CABL got going and did very well in a kind of limited way, 
but from over in PAR, Ed Steimel had often discussed the fact that what 
we needed to do was to get a research institute in Louisiana which would 
do research work on Louisiana products and bring industry to Louisiana. 
We have one of the richest states in the union, but all of its natural 
resources were being shipped away and would never find a way back in 
here. We were also sending our best young minds away for training, and 
they were not coming back. We wanted something to train some of the 
better people and keep our young scientists in the state. 

The Gulf South Research Institute was started through CABL. We 
set up an organizing committee, a board of trustees. I was on that board 
and was asked to serve as one of the board of directors of Gulf South. I 
did serve, then, for eight years as treasurer and on the executive commit- 
tee. There were about four or five of us who served on the executive 
committee, the officers and, I think, one or two additional directors. But 
it had a hard life from the beginning. We had a hard time getting good 
leadership. I think I finally left after eight years because I felt that I 
couldn't add any more to it. 

The contributions toward better state government of Paul Brown 
are impressive, indeed. From his appointment to the first State Civil Ser- 
vice Commission to his leading role in the formation of PAR and CABL, 
he made a place for himself in the movement for better Louisiana govern- 
ment, and he upheld the long family tradition of service to people in 
education, religion and public service. 



81 




Paul M. Brown Jr. retired as Centenary's chairman of the board in 
1965. His successor, George D. Nelson (top, left), poses with President Jack 
5. Wilkes and Brown. The steeple of Brown Memorial Chapel is in the 
background. 

Gov. John J. McKeithen (bottom, left) was the featured speaker at a 
dinner in 1966 honoring Brown's long service to Centenary. 



82 




As board chairman emeritus, Brown has continued his association with 
Centenary College. At a college picnic (top), he chats with state Sen. 
Virginia Shehee. 

Mr. and Mrs. Brown join President Donald Webb (below, right) 
during a college ceremony. 



83 



Postscript 



Excerpted from a speech of Paul M. Brown Jr. on May 27 , 1965, 
when he retired from the Centenary Board of Trustees. 



What I am about to say will not be easy ... I am now serving in my 
33rd year as a member of this board and in my 25th year as your chair- 
man ... I am conscious of the fact that I am retiring when the college has 
many problems. Yet the college had serious problems the first year I 
came on board, problems we have had every year. This is no new condi- 
tion. And if the college lives up to the high ideals of the past, there will 
always be problems. The easy way out will be to surrender to what may 
now seem the inevitable .... 

Over the many years, I have never been able to be just a board 
member. In a way almost too real, I have been a part of the administra- 
tion since the early spring of 1933. When I first came on the board I was 
asked to be chairman of a committee set up to reorganize the college. At 
that time, it was plagued with a pyramiding deficit. Some may remember 
that I served as business manager for five years. 

Since then much of my time and effort has been given to the prob- 
lems of Centenary. I have tried to represent the college in downtown 
Shreveport, at times with considerable difficulty. In a measure, I have 
had to be her spokesman. 

In retiring, I am doing so with the deepest appreciation to each one 
of you for giving me the privilege of serving both the college and the 
young life of our community. 



A Centenary College 

Publication 
Shreveport, Louisiana 




Paul M. Brown Jr. 

"Even in a time when the inflation of 
words has much devalued their efficacy, 
it is yet justifiable for the people 
of Centenary College to speak of The 
Paul Brown Era.' There was a great 
period in the college's history — nearly 
half a century — so clearly identified 
with the leadership and devotion of 
Paul Brown that it was unquestionably 
his era. Whether as its chairman of the 
board, elder statesman or chief philan- 
thropist, he was for 50 years its loving 
mentor . . . ." 

From the Foreward 
by Donald A. Webb, 
President, Centenary College